Category: exposing narcissists

Different kinds of abuse–same feelings: How Mark Driscoll reminds me of Tracy, Phil, and others

One reason why I read blogs and articles of all different kinds of abuse, is that I find the reactions of the abuse victims are the same everywhere.

Of course you’ll have differences here and there: Being molested by a parent is not the same as being psychologically manipulated by an ex-boyfriend, for example.

But everywhere you find the same common themes: loss of trust, hurt, pain, confusion, longing for the abuser to acknowledge the abuse and make up for it.

The other day, I read this account of narcissistic abuse and a smear campaign at Mars Hill Church:

My Story by Jonna Petry

Her husband was a pastor with the church for a time, until he was abandoned and smeared by Mark Driscoll.

In this and in other stories I’ve read about abuse at Mars Hill Church, I was struck all along by things that sounded very familiar, in my own experiences with narcissistic abuse, from exes (especially Phil) and from Richard and Tracy:

  • A person/place who at first seemed like God’s gift to you.
  • Pressure to conform.
  • Shunning someone you are told is bad.
  • Abuse and getting kicked out for questioning, disagreeing, speaking up about problems.
  • A person who throws tantrums and verbally abuses you for the slightest offenses, even when the offense is only in his own mind.
  • A smear campaign.
  • Others encouraged to shun you.
  • A kangaroo court in which you have no real chance to defend yourself.
  • Others put through the same abuse if they stick up for you.
  • A “conference” which is meant not to hear your side or your grievances, but to coerce you into agreeing that the abuse against you is justified.
  • A refusal of the abusers to admit they’ve done anything wrong.  As Driscoll and his henchman wrote to Jonna and her husband, “We still believe we have done nothing wrong.”
  • Begging others to help, but no one will.
  • Discovering this abuse is a pattern, that it neither began nor ended with you.

The hurt, pain and confusion as you long desperately for reconciliation:

In shock and heartbroken, Paul and I tried desperately that first half-year to bring about some level of reconciliation.

We so longed to be restored to our friends, to have our name and reputation exonerated, and to have peace in our relationships.

This had become our family that we loved and served and ministered to as our own dear children and as brothers and sisters. These were our dear friends.

How could they do this to us? Words do not adequately describe the shock, horror, betrayal, and rejection we felt. The weight of the loss was excruciating.

The PTSD and shaking of faith:

During this whole season since the firing and the months that followed, I was emotionally and spiritually devastated.

I was often tormented by fear. I had nightmares and imaginations of someone trying to physically harm Paul, me, and the children.

If Mark had had ecclesiastical power to burn Paul at the stake I believe he would have.

I literally slept in the fetal position for months. I stayed in bed a lot, bringing the children in bed with me to do their schoolwork.

I became severely depressed and could hardly bring myself to leave the house except when absolutely necessary. I cried nearly every day for well over a year thinking I must soon cry it out, right?

But, the sorrow was bottomless. My faith was gravely shaken. How could a loving God allow this?

Later it became clear that I had typical symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression and that these reactions were common in someone who has experienced spiritual abuse.

Spiritual abuse occurs when someone uses their power within a framework of spiritual belief or practice to satisfy their own needs at the expense of others. It is a breach of sacred trust.

Christians are commanded by Jesus to love one another. When that is projected, articulated, enjoyed and then treacherously betrayed, the wounded person is left with “a sense of having been raped, emotionally and spiritually” not by a stranger, but by someone who was deeply trusted. (See Recovering from Church Abuse by Len Hjalmarson)

At the beginning, Jonna wrote,

This past summer I saw the movie, “The Help,” and a seed of courage was planted in my soul. One of the last lines of the movie:

“God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do.  But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free.”

This story is an earnest attempt to speak the truth in love that freedom and new life may flourish.

At the end, she wrote things which encourage me to continue telling the story of Richard/Tracy–and express the same hope I hold, that one day my abusers will recognize their abuse and change:

In Acts, Chapter 20, the Apostle Paul pleaded with the Ephesian elders to pay attention and guard the flock.

This admonition, along with the mounting stories of abuse and misconduct coming out of Mars Hill Church, has added to our conviction.

We believe that to remain quiet now would be unloving and disobedient to God. As my husband stated earlier–if we fail to remember our history, we leave it for others to re-write. And, unfortunately, some of that has occurred.

And, in Mark’s own words from his book, Vintage Jesus:

“People are not perfect. As sinners we need to be gracious, patient, and merciful with one another just as God is with us or the church will spend all of its time doing nothing but having church discipline trials.

“It is worth stressing, however, that we cannot simply overlook an offense if doing so is motivated by our cowardice, fear of conflict, and/or lack of concern for someone and their sanctification.

“In the end, it is the glory of God, the reputation of Jesus, the well-being of the church, and the holiness of the individual that must outweigh any personal desires for a life of ease that avoids dealing with sin biblically.

“Sometimes God in his providential love for us allows us to be involved in dealing with another’s sin as part of our sanctification and growth. It is good for us and for the sinner, the church, and the reputation of the gospel if we respond willingly to the task God has set before us.”

What happened to us was very wrong. The way it was publicly described by Mark and the elders at the time was completely exaggerated and deceptive. The way the media and blogs have since reported on it has many holes and errors. Now it is open and plain to everyone.

If Mark and the organizations he leads do not change, I fear many more will be hurt, Mark and his family included.  To not speak is to not love or care and shows no thought or consideration for those who have been wounded and those who will be in the future.

We are witnesses. There is a pattern. There is a history. There is an ethos of authoritarianism and abuse.

Mark is the unquestioned head of Mars Hill Church and the Acts 29 Network. His elders have no way to hold him accountable. Those under him likely fear him and want to garner his favor so they don’t dare say nor do anything that might anger him. This is tragic.

Perhaps at some point, with enough outcry and exposure, Mark will come to his senses, own his harmful behavior, and get the help he needs to change. I hope so. Our common Enemy can make terrible use of our weaknesses and blind spots.

Our Lord’s harshest words were for leaders who used their status, power, the Scriptures, and God’s people for their own self-aggrandizement. Surely this is not what Mark meant to do.

We are all in this together, no matter what kind of abuse we suffered, or from whom.

We did not deserve it, and need to learn and remember this.  We need to put the responsibility for the abuse, and our subsequent hurt and pain, where it belongs–on the abuser–and take none for ourselves.

And we need to NOT look at each other and think, “I got it worse than you, so why should I bother with your story and pain?”

We also need to learn from each other, take courage from each other to speak up and tell our stories, and heal each other.

 

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Phil’s “subconscious” explains why he’s coming out to talk to me–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–July 1994, Part 5

On July 24, I wrote the reasons the “subconscious” told me he was coming out.  One was that Phil “doesn’t know what he wants and won’t listen to him.”

I don’t want to publish everything here on the second point, but basically, Phil was clumsy and tried to get me to do things I found gross (oral) or painful (anal), which didn’t work, so he lost his passion.

He wasn’t passionate enough to satisfy his subconscious, so the sub. came out to rectify things by going more slowly and teaching me to do the things I didn’t want to do.  Once I was ready and able to do these things, and Phil became more passionate again, the sub. would stop taking over.

Looking at this with more knowledgeable eyes, it basically sounds like the “subconscious” was yet another attempt to coerce me into doing things which grossed me out and/or caused excruciating pain.

Especially since me doing these things, was the way to get Phil more passionate so the subconscious would no longer “need” to come out….

Basically, it was my “fault” he was losing his passion.  And if he could behave so “tender” and “passionate” and “gentle” as his subconscious, why not drop the act and just do this as himself?

Also, the subconscious said he could tell from my “aura” that my own subconscious actually wanted to do the things I didn’t want to do.  So Phil’s purpose in this big hoax was to manipulate me into things I did not want to do, in every way possible!

Then I wrote,

He says Phil’s forgetting about this diary, but that it’s probably better if I don’t tell him things.

Last night, Phil told me he felt his subc. was more intriguing and “neat” to a person like me, and that when it’s me and his subc., he can have no part of it.  Even in dreams, he can have a good dream and remember it when we do something.  He doesn’t like that his subc. is with me.

So now there’s guilt-tripping, when in reality Phil was awake and present the entire time, playing a joke on me.  He was practically accusing me of an affair–with himself.

And, from this and the parts I’m not quoting, he used this as a ploy to get even more sex than usual, so “Phil-awake” wouldn’t miss out.  A couple of times I sent the subconscious away because I needed sleep; the third time, guilt came out again, as he said, “Please don’t send me away again, or I’ll never come back.”

Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you.  When he came back, maybe the first time, I told him Phil feels like he’s competing with his own subc.

“So?” he said.

“Don’t you care how he feels?  He is you,” I said, upset.

“No.”  But later on I found that wasn’t because he was bad, but because he wanted Phil’s passion to return, and this was the way to do it.

…After [the subc.] left again, Phil woke up once while I slept, and sat whispering to our stuffed rabbit-son Benny, “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?  Yes, she is!”  I heard him and woke up.

On July 25, I wrote,

He, the subc., whom theory says cloaks the messages into images in dreams, really doesn’t know what they are, either.  They aren’t always messages, either.

Phil does still dream when “he’s” around, sometimes, and whether or not the sleep is refreshing depends on the sleep, not on the subc. who’s visiting me.

Phil [in the van], as I tried to explain the subc.’s purpose in coming, said, “My subc. is a jerk.  He’s seeing you behind my back.”  I hooted with laughter.  “Hey Jealousy” was playing; I said, “Hey, Jealousy, you sound like a house divided against itself.”

Later, I said to the subc., “I suppose you know what Phil called you today.”  He laughed.  “What do you think of it?”

He said, “If only he knew what I’m doing for him.”

I paged through books and encyclopedias looking for any references to the subconscious coming out, often while sitting right next to Phil at the computer.  On July 27, I wrote:

This is no deception by Phil, neither is it him dreaming.  I’ve talked to him both ways, grilled him, watched him, and detected no tricks, no lies, nothing but what points to it being as he (subc.) says.

Here’s what the subconscious does all day: He takes in what the five senses detect.  He prioritizes things, puts them in order, tries to tell them to Phil.  He can’t see me unless Phil can.

He has no part in dreams, despite all those dream “codes” they talk about and all those theories that dreams are cloaked messages from the subc.  (As a matter of fact, he called those codes “a bunch of hocus-pocus like fortune-telling and astrology.”)

He’s awake pretty much all the time.  (I asked when he’s not awake, but all he said was, “How should I know?”)  He’s got so little to do, so few jobs, that he has a lot of free time on his hands (so to speak) and likes to fantasize.  And what about?  Me, of course, and a lot….

He needs me so badly that if I don’t have sex with him almost every time he appears, he may not be able to come back to me ever again.  He says he’ll probably disappear for a while during my fertile period.

And I can’t wake up Phil directly; he has to do it, or else the shock of jumping from one mind to another could make him mentally and emotionally unstable, or make him forget years of his life, or even kill him!

So he’ll have to be very careful with his appearances back at his house, where family members like to burst into the room unannounced and make life very perilous for us.

He says I’m the ember for his fire; he needs my passion; he needs my carnal desires.  Without them, he can’t return.

He also says he’s the part that comes out under hypnosis.  I told him I got hypnotized a couple times, and that a link [with Peter] was set up for a while which I’m glad no longer exists.  Maybe I’ll tell him more details later.

Oh, yes, I mustn’t forget what he said the other night: That the love he felt at first sight was the knowledge that I was the one.  We’re meant for each other, meant to be together for our whole lives.

And he says he loved me first [instead of Pearl], he loved me when he first laid eyes on me; Phil-conscious loved me when he decided he did.

And when Phil-conscious told me he wasn’t the guy who called my name from an upper window in the library [happened junior year as I walked by, and I never knew who or why], he was right, but he wished it had been him.

On August 2, I wrote to Clarissa,

Speaking of minds, the following is something I only want to tell a few people because I don’t know how the hearer would react to it.

There were some times that Phil himself didn’t really believe it, and I’ve had to test to see that it’s true and not him tricking me or talking in his sleep.

Don’t tell anyone about it, or they might get the wrong idea or think I’m crazy.

But lately truth has certainly been stranger than fiction.  I don’t know how, though I’ve tried to research it, but Phil’s subconscious has been using Phil’s mouth to talk to me while Phil’s asleep!

I figure I might as well tell you because, for one thing, you’ve been my roommate for two years and I’ve told you a lot of things, and for another, I don’t think you’d decide I’m just either gullible or nuts.

But this happens without any hypnotism; “he” comes out on his own volition, or when I call to him in a whisper.  Phil has to be asleep because both can’t be “present” at the same time, and I can’t wake Phil up myself when his subconscious mind is “out.”

“He” has a theory for the why, why he comes out, which is too personal for me to tell even you, but has no idea about the how.

I’ve been asking him about the subconscious, what it’s like and what it does; it doesn’t have a whole lot to do, so in its spare time it likes to fantasize about things.  At least, he does.

And forget all that stuff they tell us about dreams being messages cloaked by the subconscious mind.  He says he doesn’t even know what dreams are, and that those dream interpretations are a bunch of hocus-pocus, like astrology.

I’m going to have to talk to our psychology major, Sharon, abut some of this, and probably my Intro to Psych teacher as well.  Suddenly I’m quite glad I’m taking Psych, and that I’m taking it this next semester.

So you see how Phil’s hoax was beginning to spread, how I even planned to discuss it with my Psych teacher.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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The healing of getting it all out

Going into my college memoirs and publicly exposing the abuse that my exes put me through (without revealing their names because this is not about revenge)–This does seem to be helping a lot.  There’s just something about getting it all out into the open.

Going through the Phil files to post them has been draining and exhausting, but it’s good to get it out there.

As I do so, I see new things I did not know before, based on my research into abuse, and I can validate that former, scared self I was 20 years ago.  And I know that countless readers could identify with my story.  (See here.)

The same thing is happening with posting the Richard/Tracy story here in the blog section of my website.  I did that already, a year and a half ago, but it got few hits.  My blog wasn’t so big back then.

It’s on my website, but except for a few pages, my website doesn’t get many hits in general.  [Note 1/3/15: When I posted this, I had not yet combined my website with my blog, as it is now.]

But now that I’m rewriting the story and posting it here in little chunks, the writing is improving, and people are starting to read parts of it because they can see the chunks are relevant to their own experiences.  [Note 8/21/15: I am moving these “chunks” to the 2010 and 2011 archives.]

I’m also adding things and making connections which I didn’t get before, because I had not yet done the research into abuse which I have done since I finished it in 2012.

Exposing the story like this is scary–the usual, “What will people think of me?”  It wasn’t quite as scary when few people were reading it.

But writing our stories of abuse is not about being judged by others, or about vengeance: It’s about the healing journey.  The first part is to get out the story, and not worry about what others think of us.

We MUST tell our stories in some way.  Keeping it secret will kill our spirits, even if not our bodies.  We must expose what our abusers did, not keep the secret for them, as if we owe them a favor.

This extensive rewriting and posting of both the Richard/Tracy and Phil stories has been very draining and exhausting.  But I can feel the healing come into my spirit.

I see new connections and insights which I did not have before, from three years’ distance and research.  I see red flags and lies which I did not see before.

I see that I can forgive myself, both for fleas caught from my abusers, and for falling for the lies of the narcissists.

I see how I was being used and manipulated from early on.  I see that my theories of what happened with Richard and Tracy, make a lot of sense, answer all the questions.

The more I rewrite and revisit these experiences, the more I see how Richard and Tracy both manipulated, used and deceived me, how their lies were woven.  The more I see that my husband and I do not need these people back in our lives, no matter how much grief I held over losing my supposed “BFF.”

I see that it’s not my fault I was abused by Richard and Tracy.  I see that it was not my fault I was abused by Phil, or that he lied to and manipulated his flying monkey Dirk, and then sent him to break my spirit and get me under Phil’s control at last.

And hopefully I can recognize such people if they come into my life again.  And help others recognize such people as well, after they read my stories and get validation for their own experiences.

I have also read of people telling their abusers what they have done to them, and how healing that is, even though normally the abusers call them crazy and refuse to apologize.

We can’t expect apologies or depend on them for our healing, though we do deserve apologies and they would be a healing bonus.  We can’t let the abusers keep us under their control, as if they get to decide whether or not we can heal.

Well, my abusers have been reading my blog and website for the past year and a half.  Let them read what I’m posting now.  It’s healing for me to lay it all out here, and in small chunks, hoping they will actually READ it this time.

(They went over it so quickly last year, and got such bizarre interpretations of what it said, that I doubt they truly *read* it.)  Maybe now they’ll finally GET it.

Or not, because that requires empathy, and the willingness to admit to doing wrong, abusive things to me and to others.  I saw very little of that when I knew them, but a whole lot of justification for every nasty word, every act of vengeance.

They’ll probably just find some way to call everything I write “baloney” again, or say it never happened that way, or that they never did that, or that they were justified, even though everything I write is true and this is how it all happened.

Which is exactly why we broke off relations with them.

That’s how abusers act when you confront them with the abuse, so you can’t expect apologies or even acknowledgement that you tell the truth.  It’s extremely common for abusers to call their victims “liars,” “crazy,” and continue the abuse, even when faced with documentation proving their abuse.

I hope that the current bitter cold weather will inspire them to say as soon as Tracy graduates, “Screw this, we’re going back home where it’s warm!”  (You know it’s been cold when you consider 15 degrees and an above-zero wind chill “springlike.”)  Then they’d be thousands of miles away from me.

They’re banned from former mutual friend Todd’s Forum, I don’t see them on my other forums anymore, and I dropped current mutual friends on Facebook to protect myself.

While I do see the mutual friends sometimes on the Forum, or on Todd’s Facebook, there’s no chance of interacting with them in the same threads as Richard/Tracy.  So even online is much safer now.

The emotional pain of seeing them at my church and fearing what they will do there, or what they will say to whom to smear me (such as my priest, which they did already do), no longer happens.

It’s the same as when Peter and Shawn stopped going to my college two years in, so I no longer saw them around every day.  Or when I graduated and moved away from S– and to Fond du Lac, so I no longer saw Phil, Persephone or Dirk every day.

Not seeing your abusers around, and not hearing their names all the time, is incredibly helpful when you can manage it.

It also feels like the events I write about here–even though they still can stir up anger at times–are becoming just another part of my past, something that happened long ago.  The more I write, the more it seems like just words and pages on a screen, and no more real than fairyland.

I spent the 90s still smarting over the things that Peter, Shawn, Phil and others did in college, but the more I wrote about it, the more it seemed to fade.  And then so much time passed that, even though I can channel old feelings long enough to write a blog post on abuse, after I’m done writing about it and tweaking the posts, it fades away again as if it never happened.

Now that the threat is gone and Richard and Tracy have finally turned into nothing but an IP address in my blog stats, I feel like revising and re-posting the book I wrote about that experience, is all I need to do.  Maybe even publish it on Lulu for those who prefer that form.

Then after that, it will all fade as if it never happened.  Much faster than it did with the exes, because I didn’t have a blog back then, just a private journal and occasional e-mails or forum posts…..

 

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Discovering long-forgotten psychological abuse and attempted sexual assaults in my college memoirs

I’ve been going through my public college memoirs, which are published here, along with my private memoirs, to decide what to put in the public version that has not previously been there.  Right now I’m going through the July and August 1994 chapter.  And I must say…..

That part should include trigger warnings for people who have been raped, sexually assaulted or sexually abused.

Over the years since I wrote it all down (1994 through 1998), I completely forgot a lot of it.  I remembered Phil’s attempts to guilt and verbally coerce me into anal sex, and the time he tried to force me into it and I tried to push him off me….

But I completely forgot there was more.  That he repeatedly tried to turn me over, with a stern, angry look on his face like I’d better obey, but I’d refuse and resist his hands.  Amazing what you can forget in 20 years.

It also amazes me because over the years, I started to fear that I was to blame for some of his abuse.  You mature and start to wonder if you behaved badly at times in previous relationships.

But as I go through these old logs, I see the extent of his verbal, psychological and sexual abuse was even farther than I remembered.

It must have been some of his “time bombs” being planted in my head, going off years later, making me forget what really happened.

I begin to read and remember just how extensively he tried to gaslight me by changing history, telling people deliberate lies about me, yelling at me over things I could not help (like not being able to keep up with his fast walk), then complaining about me at work (smear campaign).

Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the hoax he kept up for some eight months, tricking me into believing that he was talking in his sleep and acting out his dreams, including his “subconscious” coming out to tell me all his little secrets.  I forgot the extent of the “subconscious” hoax, as well.

I begin to see that, as painful as it may be to review these things and put them into the public, they serve an important purpose and must be put out there.

We need to keep educating each other about abuse, because despite decades of awareness campaigns, Lifetime movies and the like, people still get abused, people still feel entitled to abuse.

My story also shows that it can be survived, and that you can eventually break the emotional bond with your abuser. 

Now, I can be friendly to Phil online maybe, but there’s no way in heck that I would ever get back together with him.  I don’t WANT him.  The love I once felt, is dead.  The emotional bond was completely severed years ago.

My story also shows that I can eventually get to this point with Richard, too.  The breakup with Phil was emotionally devastating to me, despite the abuse, and it took months and a new boyfriend to get over it.

But it was easy to get over the breakup, compared to the aftereffects of the abuse: They lasted for years.  But I did get past them, finally.

Now it’s basically a short blip in my life, an episode of only nine months out of 40 years, which no longer affects the present.  Well, except for avoiding certain people even on Facebook because they were his minions…

It also tells me that the story of Richard/Tracy needs to stay out there, too, even though parts of it might embarrass me because of my gullibility,

or discovering that some people still believe we should control the friendships of our spouses,

or discovering that some people actually think it’s immoral to be close friends with the opposite sex when one or both of you is married.

(Are you frickin’ kidding me?  I thought we abandoned those ideas DECADES ago!)

Or that innocent, playful flirting is somehow immoral after you get married.  (They’d have a conniption fit if they ever visited my old workplace, which was full of flirty married people, or met some of the SCA people I know!)

The full story must continue to be told, because abuse stories like this are desperately needed.  They’re needed to warn the young and the naïve.

They’re needed to educate the public on what abuse is, that verbal and psychological abuse is very real, and that its damage to victims must be respected.

They’re needed to educate the public on narcissism and how severely it traumatizes its victims, even though it’s often not physical abuse.

 

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More support for keeping diaries and saving letters/e-mails: to defend against gaslighting from abusers and narcissists

Here in several posts by Grace for my Heart, are reasons why we must keep diaries and save our letters/e-mails when dealing with psychological and narcissistic abuse:

Second, write things down.  I am a strong proponent of good records and journals in these relationships.  When you have a disagreement, even something as simple as the conversation I related above, write down your thoughts about it.

Tell what you remember and why and how you felt when the conversation ended.  Write down his lie/excuse/challenge as well.

You don’t have to do anything with this, but you may find that a pattern emerges and you can see what is really happening.  And you may take your journal to a counselor you trust to learn even more someday. —Gaslighting

This is especially important because

Also, narcissistic abuse is difficult to prove.  What evidence can you give?  Usually narcissists are not physical abusers, so there are no marks to show.

The continual criticism and the gaslighting can be hard to show to others.  And the effect is cumulative.  Taken as individual instances, these things often seem insignificant.

It’s when it happens every day over a period of years that the effects of the abuse are felt.  People who know you realize that something is wrong, but can’t put their finger on the cause, even when they see it happening.

The sad truth is that narcissists often win in the court of public opinion.  They have lived their whole lives manipulating the perspectives of others and they are invested way beyond anything the rest of us would consider reasonable.

They are usually ruthless in their willingness to attack, even to lie.  They tie others to themselves through manipulation for support. —Why Won’t They Believe Me?

You can use this to make your story believable because:

Last week I wrote about the difficulty many have in explaining the actions and abuse of the narcissist.  Some find that they simply are not believed when they begin to describe the kind of attacks and manipulation they have suffered.

I wanted to suggest some ways to prepare for telling your story.  Please understand that there is no magic incantation to make someone believe you.

As I explained last week, there are times when the recipients of your story feel that they cannot support you, even if they do believe you.  And, at other times, the narcissist simply wields his super ability to persuade others and you lose.  I wish it were some other way.

But there may be a few things that could help.

  1. Keep records.  Contemporaneous notes, records written very near the time of the event, are considered to be stronger evidence than just a story later.  If you can write down, within an hour or so, the exact words used or the particular times of the event or some very specific information, you will find that people receive your words with greater trust.  This is a well-respected technique in negotiations, probably because it seems more difficult to fabricate.  Use different writing tools from time to time to accent the fact that you are not writing this all at once. —Overcoming the Disbelief

I believe this is the real reason why Richard and Tracy tried to make me feel somehow stalker-y for saving my letters and e-mails to and from friends.  I believe they wanted me to feel just as creepy as they told me I was acting, so I would destroy all those letters and e-mails.

I believe they feared that I was writing down the things they were doing and saying, and that their house of cards would soon fall when I added it all up and realized they’d been deliberately deceiving and manipulating me.

And well, they were right about that.  These posts by Grace for my Heart, which I just found tonight, are also added support for my conviction that I did nothing wrong or “creepy” in saving these letters and e-mails.

Unfortunately, I shredded/deleted a bunch of letters and e-mails in 2008 after listening to bad advice, in an attempt to “forgive” Tracy and “move on” so we could be friends.

But a Providential “mistake” led to me discovering some of those old e-mails in draft form, a few in particular which I especially wanted back.

Basically, in May 2010, we got a new computer.  I didn’t understand how to transfer Thunderbird e-mails from one computer to another.  I had the old data files on a portable hard drive, but didn’t know how to re-connect them on the new computer.

So I used a very cumbersome method to look through my e-mails: opening them with WordPad and WordPerfect.  This left me with a tremendous amount of HTML junk to sift through (one little bit of HTML in an e-mail will turn into hundreds of pages of lines of junk characters), and far too much data at one time to be opened easily.

BUT then one day in September 2012, I discovered that my Drafts file had preserved all the different stages of each draft, even ones I had deleted!  These files did not have HTML like my Inbox, and were much easier to read through.

I could see the very first version of a draft before I first saved it, all the way up through various changes, to the final version!  And every version had its own time and date stamp.

I could see an e-mail written to Richard, full of venting and complaints about abuse in an early version, then later on changed to be far more diplomatic.

Shortly after this, I discovered how to connect my e-mails to a new computer, so I could use my e-mails normally through Thunderbird.

But I also saved a copy of the original data files, and the files I made to use with WordPad, so all those old drafts still exist.  If anyone questions if the WordPad files have been altered, they can verify them with the original data files.

I have used these e-mails to make my account far more accurate than it was before, since I had forgotten some things by the time I wrote it, and to prove that I used words like “bullied” and “abused” way back in December 2007 when complaining about how I was treated.

They prove that Richard told me he was being abused.  They prove that I saw acts of verbal and physical abuse when they lived in my house.

Drafts of e-mails sent to my mother describe the abuse I witnessed while Richard and Tracy lived in my house, so even though I deleted the e-mails and my mom does not keep e-mails that old, I still have copies.

And I have e-mail exchanges with my husband in 2009 which were never deleted, which prove that Richard complained of abuse.  I also have copies of an e-mail which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am telling the truth about their domestic violence, because of who it’s from and what it says.

I probably also found people more easily believed my story, when they themselves had dealt with Richard/Tracy, and/or when Richard’s criminal conviction of choking his daughter gave my story that outside verification through official sources, of plausibility.  Lots of narc victims don’t have this.

These records prove that I am not crazy.  That I am NOT “not all there.”  That this was Richard and Tracy gaslighting me again into thinking I was crazy and lying–or trying to, but they couldn’t because I have proof of the truth.  I have resisted exes trying to gaslight me in the past, so I know I can resist it now, too.

Do this yourself, keeping records and e-mails, when you feel something is going weird, so you can figure it out later and prove it to others.

Don’t let your narc tell you it’s “creepy.”  Those e-mails and diaries could save your sanity one day.  Or even help you in custody battles or with proving your side of the story.

I also highly recommend that you read all the articles I linked to in this post, because there is far more information in there about defending against gaslighting, telling your story and being believed.

 

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Should bloggers reveal the names of their abusers? Should I reveal mine right here in a big expose’?

Why do we have to keep everything a secret?  Why are our ‘secrets’ considered embarrassing? Why are we protecting our abusers? What’s wrong with a good ol’ public hanging?…

Nowadays everything happens behind closed doors. And on top of that, victims aren’t supposed to talk about it. …Why are we being judged for what others did to us? –Prozac Blogger, “Why are we the ones that hide the truth?”

Prozac Blogger no longer blogs, at least not about his abuse.  He wrote in the post/comments that he was afraid his dad would find his blog, and proceed to “wipe the floor” with P.B. with his high-powered lawyers.  So he kept his identity secret.

But then, one day last year, he finally got the chance to confront his abusive father, and cut him out of his life for good.  After that, he felt healed at last, took down most of the blog, and started a new one which revealed his own identity, but was about various things, such as politics and his own short fiction.  (He was a porn star!  Who knew!)

From that, anyone who knew him could figure out his father, so I guess he was no longer afraid, even though he didn’t give his father’s name.  But now, I don’t see P.B. anywhere when I search.  I had to get the above link through the Wayback Machine.

When Savannah Dietrich was raped,

The public humiliation culminated this June, when her assailants struck a plea deal on charges of felony sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism that Dietrich felt amounted to a “slap on the wrist.” And the court had an order for Dietrich, too: Don’t talk about it, or risk 180 days in prison and a $500 fine.

First, Dietrich cried. Then, she logged online. “There you go, lock me up,” she tweeted to a couple hundred Twitter followers, outing her assailants by name. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.”

These men had made their assault on her public. Now, they had convinced a court to keep it all under wraps. “If reporting a rape only got me to the point that I’m not allowed to talk about it, then I regret it,” she wrote in a note on her Facebook wall. “I regret reporting it.”  –Amanda Hess, Slate.com

Read the rest of the above post for details of how various girls have used social media to expose their rapists–and the fallout they received for it.  But Hess sees them as brave, fighting to make a change despite the odds.  After all, exposing rapists and abusers online is risky, especially if you can’t point to a settled court case.

If your rapist was convicted, or your abuser is sitting in jail for years for choking you, then you can’t be guilty of libel.  But if it’s not proven, or if it’s verbal/emotional abuse or a general pattern of behavior, then you are on riskier ground if you reveal names.

Julie Anne Smith was sued by her former pastor for blogging about spiritual abuse she experienced from him; she won.

I understand why they used real names, but that put them into treacherous waters from the very beginning.  However, it has given other victims of spiritual abuse a forum, as they discover they’re not the only ones abused at Beaverton Grace Bible Church.  Other spiritual abuse victims of other churches are also speaking out on these and other blogs.

As you can see in this post, in which I published the DARVO e-mail sent to me by my own abusers, they apparently had some crazy idea that I was going to go on some kind of public campaign outing them to the whole city.

I never said or “threatened” that I would, and I have no clue where they got this idea; it must have been their own paranoia speaking.  (But then, Tracy has shown a tendency to read in things that aren’t there.)

Or, as I figured at the time, maybe they were jumping on the fact that I wrote–in a post written long before they ever found my blog–that I would have to talk to the priest if their church merged with mine, to get his help dealing with the situation, and form a contract which would keep them from harassing me at church.

No, the only thing I told them was to either apologize or stay the **** away from me, and don’t contact me.  No threats, period; they pulled that “threat” concept out of their backsides, then proceeded to give me an actual threat.

No, I had already told my friends and family what happened, reported my abusers to CPS for the many instances of child and spousal abuse I witnessed, and told my priest what was going on so he could advise me, all before my abusers even found my blog.

I named my abusers to my friends and family, who include people here in town.  I no longer hesitate to use their names when speaking of them on my Facebook.  But my Facebook wall is closed to the public.

This was all the public “outing” I ever intended to do, and all of it is covered under our precious First Amendment.

I used my blog as a tool to get everything out in great detail, something my friends would not have the patience for, so that I could heal and maybe help other abuse victims in the process.

But all names and identifying details were changed, I even removed pictures from my website/blog and Richard’s comments on my blog from 2009, and I had no intention of ever revealing these things on my blog.

Besides, posting their names here would be vengeance, not justice or a healing tool.

“Justice” was telling my priest and family/friends.

“Healing” was writing about the abuse, venting all my anger, and then beginning to transfer it to the written words and out of my heart.  “Healing” is seeing others read my posts to help their own healing, sometimes even downloading a copy.

Putting their names on a blog so future employers could Google it–that’s vengeance.  “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.”  Not MINE.  (Besides, if I ruin their chances at getting a job, I ruin their chances of ever getting the means to move the heck away from this town.)

Now, the state publicly posts court records; I have nothing to do with that.  That, they will have to contend with.  Richard ruined his own chances of ever becoming a priest, and can’t sue the state for posting his criminal records.

I have seen all sorts of different abuse blogs in the past few years.  Some have never given the names of their narcissists and/or abusers, such as Tina Swithin and Whispers of God, but have still been threatened with or actually hit with lawsuits.

Some have given real names; the results have been mixed.  Princess Fi tried to go through legal channels, but it had been decades since her parents sexually abused her, and the police finally dropped the lawsuit.  She posted the names of her abusers online, but she lives in the UK, where the police forced her to remove the names.  Swithin has never actually been sued, and still blogs.

Christina Enevoldsen has been public about her abuse experiences in her own town for years, and even was threatened by her own mother with a lawsuit, but that never happened.  Other bloggers on Overcoming Sexual Abuse use real names as well.

[Update 12/20/14: After this post was written, Enevoldsen revealed that she was indeed sued by her mother–and won.  She writes about it here.]

Bloggers on Emerging from Broken use real names.  Though I think for the most part the bloggers are using their own real names, not naming their abusers.  Of course you can figure out who that is if you know the blogger, but the general public wouldn’t know.

Paula’s Pontifications does not give the name of her narcissistic ex.

Exposing the name of your abuser is a huge risk.  I don’t advise it, because changing names and identifying details should keep you from being successfully sued–especially if the abuse cannot be proven in court, such as verbal abuse or narcissistic mind games.

If your arm has been broken and the police are aware of this, or if your abuser has been convicted of sexual abuse or rape, you may be able to get away with exposing names.  But otherwise, take care.  It’s bad enough to be abused in the first place, without getting sued as well.

See Intimidation of Abuse Bloggers and Dealing with Gaslighting Legal Threats for more on this subject.

 

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Another person who gets why we blog about our abuse/stalking experiences

I’ve been reading this blog about a woman who was stalked by her neighbor for some time.  Because of how some people responded to me posting here about Richard and Tracy, and especially my husband telling me they’ll stop stalking me here if I stop posting about them, this part resonated with me:

I was on a bit of a moral high horse, then. Thought Cyber Friend’s posts lacked discretion. Violated Internet Rule #1: keep your private life off the Internet. Weren’t her posts goading him? Taunting him? Putting fuel on the fire, giving him more to get enraged about?

By the way, I received similar accusations from people in my neighborhood, after they learned that The Neighbor declared war on me. Karma?

Of course, my moral quandary wasn’t enough to stop reading the awfulness Cyber Friend described. Who can resist taking a second, then a third look at a train wreck?

Cyber Friend never wrote about her fear, only her frustration and tiredness. The extreme tiredness that comes when you just want something to end, but have to keep going. Trying to hold onto your life, because the awfulness just might never end.

I now understand the tiredness she described. Never knowing when my dinner, my sleep, my attempt to go to work, to come home from work, to go grocery shopping, to entertain friends, or to just watch Doctor Who in peace, would be interrupted by a barrage of screaming hatred.

My new filter also allows me to realize that Cyber Friend was asking for help. Hoping for advice or comfort.

She was also building witnesses to her stalker’s obsession. Practicing cyber self-defense. Fighting her stalker as openly as he was attacking her.

Keeping a public record, so if anything happened to her, at the very least, her cyber readers could attest to her harassment.

Exactimundo!  This is why I kept posting everything my stalkers, Richard and Tracy, did, even when they passed me twice on the street and freaked me out last January.  I knew they would read that, maybe laugh, but I didn’t care: I wanted that public record.  They’re hardly the only ones who read that post.

I knew that Richard and Tracy were both crazy enough to attack me, because Richard once told me Tracy almost killed me one night (back in 2008), because I saw her raging tirades, because Richard was a former Mafia thug who had been convicted of choking one of his kids, and because he once told me he was going to assault (sounded like kill) the woman who evicted his family.

If they could do these things in other situations, or contemplate them, then I had reason to fear when seeing their van pass me a second time in one hour, as if they’d been waiting for me to finish my errand.  In case anything did happen to me, my blog would serve as evidence so that they would not get away with it.

I recommend the above blog, by the way: It is very well-written.  [Update 9/24/15: The blogger let the original blog expire.  For now, her old posts can only be found through the Wayback Machine, which I’ve used in my updated links here.]

Also, earlier I mentioned that my husband disagreed with some friends, and I wondered if his own trauma from the Richard/Tracy crap led to him making the disagreement seem worse than it was.  That is indeed the case.  He finally sorted out the issue with the friends.

He and I both felt, and we also told these friends, that the Richard/Tracy trauma has had such an enduring effect on us that he feared the same thing was happening all over again with new people. 

So he freaked out and thought the friendship was over, that the new friend was a narcissist, etc.  This tells me that he, too, was traumatized by Richard/Tracy.

 

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