exposing narcissists

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…..

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.