Category: isolated by abuser

Pearl reveals that Phil is costing me social invitations–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 5

Some good things still happened in the Summer of Hell.  I was proud of Phil’s abilities: acting, math, memory.

One Sunday in August we got a pizza from Little Caesar’s for dinner.  In the little shop was a game that looked like an arcade game.  It had different-colored buttons, each of which lit up and played a different note when pressed, like Simon but with different colors.  Also like Simon, it played a one-note tune at first, then each time you repeated the tune properly, it added on one more note.

Phil played it while we waited for our pizza.  Because his memory was so darn good, he stood there playing it and getting more and more notes added.  There were no other customers, and the pizza was in the oven, so all the workers stood and watched, mystified.  They’d never seen anyone get that far along on the game before.

This was why I stayed with him despite the way he treated me that summer:

  1. I loved him.
  2. I didn’t see that, even though he wasn’t hitting me, he was still abusing me.
  3. We were married, and I took those vows very seriously.
  4. I didn’t know where else to find a Christian man who had so many things in common with me.
  5. He was my first lover, and I always intended him to be my last, my partner for life.

****

As for “Undine,” I’d sit down either on the couch or on my bedroom chair with German dictionaries and paper, and slowly write a word-for-word translation.  Then I re-wrote it in more intelligible order.  Phil often came home and found me in my room, working on “Undine” while watching All in the Family.

There were still so many words that needed to be found, archaic words in neither of my dictionaries.  (In 1998, I found a German newsgroup on the Internet and got translations for the words I never found.  In 2002, I found an English translation on the Internet.)  The translation took about sixty days, roughly, then I typed it up on Microsoft Word.

Phil and I often went to parks on the weekends.  Sometimes I had to talk him into it, but I liked walking for hours in the middle of forests.

Unfortunately, he was getting just like his brother was with his Pearl: Whenever she wanted to do something, Dave treated her like a nag and just slept.  Phil complained about this once, the way Dave treated Pearl.

But now, Phil started doing the exact same thing with me, but blamed me for it, even though he blamed Dave for the exact same behavior.  Yet there seemed to be a block in his mind, preventing him from seeing his double standards.

We went to Rum Village, other little parks we found, and Memorial Park.  I think we also went to Potawatomi Park.  In a park alongside a street, we sat on the swings, sometimes swinging, and had a great time talking and swinging.  We walked in the little wooded area, with its sitting areas and little paths.

We went to Wilson Park, with its giant hills and wooden pyramid.  We even went past the hills and the electrical tower (the kind you must never touch or you’ll get electrocuted, but there’s no fence around it), into the woods nearby.  We went as far as a little residential area, but Phil thought we should turn back there because it might be a private area.

After visiting Wilson Park, the scene of so many of my childhood memories (both church and school), we spoke of the wooden labyrinth we’d build around our mansion when Phil became a famous actor.  We wouldn’t need alarms, because we’d have this maze to deter thieves.  It would be in a hilly or wooded area, just like Wilson Park, and the wilderness around us would be stunningly beautiful.

I had a nagging notion that these were just “castles in the sky,” like the ones the girls built in Little Women, but didn’t voice it.  We believed we would actually do this, one day.

The Saturday before we planned to go back to Roanoke, we went to Memorial Park.  We walked all through the park–the woods, the playground area (playing a bit on the swings and the merry-go-round), the woods by the hill where I once ran up and down as the church softball team played, along the St. Joseph River, and along a path that leads beside the road outside the park.

There were fascinating places I’d never seen before or had forgotten, like the path.  There was a tunnel full of graffiti, some of which had probably been there during my childhood, when I last was there in the park.  The roadway path was grassy and beautiful.

The times we went to the parks, and this experience especially, seemed to make us closer, and I believed they should live in our memories together forever.  I told him of my times in that park as a child.  I think I told him, at every park, just what I remembered of it.

For example, at Rum Village I told of the boy who said, after my class went there, that he dragged a stick along the pathways and arrowheads kept popping up out of the ground.  Safetyville was at Rum Village.

I told my many memories of Wilson Park and the leather swings and getting exhausted running up the hills.  Since I was a tiny child when I first went up the hill, during a church picnic, it took forever; I looked out from the top of the hill, and saw what looked like water in the distance.  It may have actually been the city.  The hills didn’t seem quite so big now as they did when I was a child.

At Memorial, I probably told of Squirrely, the squirrel I saw playing nearby as I played on the swings with the rest of my class, and later wrote a little book about.

I told him these things because I wanted my husband to know all about me and my life.

****

Pearl and I both tended to use letters to confront people and deal with problems.  I read some of my letters (one to Peter, one to Phil that fall) to her, for her opinions.  I won’t say who she wrote to this time or why, just that it reminds me that we both did this, unpopular as the letters were with the recipients.

I also see from this mid-August letter that she and I both did the whole “listen for God’s voice” thing, feeling we got strong impressions about this or the other.  I wasn’t the only one!  The funny thing is, what she got a strong impression about, that it was God’s will, is not what actually happened.  Which is the same problem I had.

But this letter also held a shock: that Pearl, Sharon and some others planned to go to Florida over Winterim.

(This did not actually happen, because of Pearl’s medical emergency, but it was the plan for a while.  I was invited in September, but did not have the money to go.)

She assured me that my not being invited, had nothing to do with me.  Rather,

I think I owe you an explanation, though, so, honestly, it’s Phil.  I’m really glad you’re so happy with him.

However, everyone doesn’t get along with him so well.  There are people who are going to Florida (myself included, frankly) who don’t think they could spend three weeks in close quarters with him.

She didn’t think I’d want to be away from him for so long, so didn’t invite just me.  She said, “There are just some people who you know better than to force to live together.”

She’s right about that; not only had she once spent a “weekend from hell” with the wrong people, but I have gone through that myself, being forced to spend six weeks with a woman I could not get along with.

Pearl spent a lot of words begging me not to be insulted by this, saying she likes Phil, etc.  Of course, at this point she knew nothing about the emotional, psychological or sexual abuse.

I don’t remember how I reacted.  I don’t think I told Phil, who already felt my friends did not like him, and already tried to separate me from them.

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:

 

Carolyn Hax (and the “nutterati”) Stick It to a Jealous Girlfriend

A letter writer is quite upset that her boyfriend of two years still talks–all the time–with his ex-wife of 30 years.  Even “put her foot down” over it, only to find he was still talking to the ex.  Carolyn Hax’s response was not what she expected.  For example:

But this is not up for debate: He has every right to this friendship. You can point out things that bother you, take offense at being lied to, and decide they’re too cozy and break up with him for it, but you can’t tell him who he can or can’t care about based on the way you think coupled people are supposed to behave.

The commenters “below the line” (whom Hax calls “nutterati”) also, for the most part, appear to agree with Hax, and consider the letter writer to be controlling, jealous, insecure, etc.  They note that she’s trying to control a grown man.

YES!

Column here: Why can’t these exes who are “bestest buddies” move on?

And here’s another one in the same vein:

Her hostile reaction to misfired introduction shows trust issues

This girlfriend throws a hissy fit because her boyfriend accidentally called her by his ex’s name, and still has pictures of the ex on his Facebook.  Then he didn’t grovel enough for her taste.  The commenters then started calling her very immature, hoping she’s about 21 and will grow up soon.

One commenter says, “Impossible to care about a person who is so intent on keeping score. Her behavior is poison to any relationship.  Assess the bigger picture, accept what is or don’t and move on.  IMO anyone this insecure and high maintenance is just too exhausting to bother with.

I can attest to that: Even if you’re not the significant other, but a friend of the SO, this can be so exhausting that you finally say screw it and leave.

 

Sentencing of Madison Mother Who Starved Her Child

The stepmother of a 15-year-old girl who ran away from home starved and vastly underweight was sentenced Friday to five years in prison on reckless endangerment and mental harm convictions.

Melinda Drabek-Chritton, 43, of Madison, had a role in the neglect of a girl who badly needed professional help to cope with lifelong emotional issues.

But although she initially tried, those issues were not addressed between 2008 and Feb. 6, 2012, when the girl ran away from home barefoot and dressed in pajamas and was found by a passer-by who called police.

……Genovese said that Drabek-Chritton and the girl’s father, Chad Chritton, initially did try to help the girl when they brought her to Wisconsin from Texas in 2006, where she had been living with her birth mother and her mother’s husband, who was a sex offender.

The girl initially claimed that the man had sexually abused her, then denied it, but Dane County Human Services investigators found there was ample evidence to show that she had been sexually abused.

After the girl’s last medical appointment in 2008, Genovese said, Chritton and Drabek-Chritton decided that they “didn’t want to be bothered with her problems and gave up.”

When the girl was found she weighed only 68 pounds. She told police that she had been confined to the basement of the family home, starved and was not allowed to use the bathroom upstairs.

She said Drabek-Chritton abused her and encouraged the girl’s younger half-brothers to treat her badly as well.

Chad Chritton, 42, was convicted in March of felony child neglect but a jury deadlocked on other charges. Prosecutors will re-try him in November.

Drabek-Chritton’s son, Joshua Drabek, 19, is scheduled to stand trial in February on sexual assault and child abuse charges. –Ed Treleven, Stepmom of girl in abuse case Sentenced to five years in prison

This statement from the above article is one reason why I fear the system may fail Richard and Tracy‘s kids (another is the slap on the wrist he got for choking his kid, and other cases I’ve read about in our state in the past several years, of kids being killed after CPS did not do its job):

But he said there is lots of blame to go around. Despite near-constant intervention with the family by Dane County Human Services, nobody helped the girl. “This case is a system failure,” Ozanne said.

CPS was called seven times on the Chrittons, but kept closing the cases as “unsubstantiated.”  Even probation agents didn’t catch it.

Reading about this case is also when I first came across this information about food hoarding.

This raised new red flags about Richard and Tracy, because they once told me their kids were hoarding lunchmeat.

Since by now we already knew about the abuse and Richard choking one of the children, my husband and I both wondered if there was more going on than we knew about.

This isn’t about kids sneaking away snack food because their parents don’t want them to have it.  This is squirreling away things like lunchmeat and other foods because you don’t know when your next meal will be:

“She said the girl’s behavior in the hospital was consistent with that of a persistently starved person. The girl ordered as many items from the menu as she could, then hoarded the food and tucked some away for later, Knox testified.” —Judge orders trial in Wisconsin starved-teen case

 

So why does a child hoard food? Often food hoarding is directly connected to significant neglect that the child has experienced in consistently having their basic needs for life sustaining food denied or inadequately met.

As a result, the child is forced to become prematurely self-reliant in meeting their own basic needs. –Charley Joyce, Child Neglect and Hoarding Food

 

Cracker crumbs found under a pillow.  Moldy food rotting under the bed. A stash of food hidden in a backpack. A child who sits at a table and eats – and eats – and eats, until you are afraid their stomach can handle no more.  Sound familiar?

…Children communicate needs through behavior. On a deeper level, this issue is not about food but about control. The child is not yet ready to trust the adults in his or her life to provide a secure, safe environment.

That trust cannot be won by threats, punishments or shaming behaviors.  This behavior does not come out of a vacuum. Rather, it is an adaptive response to deprivation. It often stems from years of food insecurity. –Lisa Dickson, The Power of Food: Tips for Handling Hoarding

 

Incidences of food maintenance syndrome have been linked to acute stress, particularly from personal traumas such as abuse or maltreatment.

In many cases, children with food maintenance syndrome have undergone periods of neglect where they did not have access to adequate amounts of food.

The child then develops a heightened survival instinct related to food; whenever the child has an opportunity to consume food, he or she does so in excess and hoards any remaining food.

In situations where food is not consistently available to meet basic needs, overeating and food hoarding are natural reactions to fight off potential future starvation.

However, these habits can continue even when food has become readily available thus causing food maintenance syndrome. The characteristics of this disorder are a sign that the person afflicted still feels insecure about whether his/her basic needs will be met….

Food maintenance syndrome is rare in the general population but there are certain demographics where it is very common.  In particular, foster children are prone to food maintenance syndrome.

Abused or neglected children who are not in foster care also frequently display symptoms of food maintenance syndrome. —Food Maintenance Syndrome

LYING, STEALING, AND HOARDING FOOD: Survival techniques gone wrong

Read more about this case here.

 

Reblog: The Narc and Male Friends

Sofia Lee tells her story of a jealous, possessive husband in The Narc and Male Friends.  I especially noted how he would lecture her on her “inappropriate” behavior, even though there was nothing wrong with it.

Tracy was the same way, raging at and lecturing me and, apparently, keeping her husband beaten down as well, over innocent behavior, calling it “inappropriate” and not allowing me to disagree.

It wasn’t just me: I heard the stories from him about other women as well, ones who didn’t pass her approval, especially during hormonal spikes.  Meanwhile, the rules she put on him and on me, she did not follow herself.  It’s all in my story, linked here.

One of these “inappropriate” behaviors was wanting to speak privately with Richard.  Sofia Lee also writes,

Friends, especially girlfriends, are all too likely to point out his douche behavior and convince you to do something about it, so they are a risk. Private conversations are a risk for the abuser. He needs you to be isolated, scared and insecure in order to torture you some more.

Then there was Kym railing on Sabrina in a narcissistic rage on Breaking Amish; my post about that is here.  On blogs and Facebook’s Breaking Amish pages, a lot of people hated Kym’s rage at Sabrina, calling it “trailer trash” and “ghetto” behavior, and sticking up for Sabrina.

That’s how I felt, too, and it was just like Tracy’s behavior with me.

“Kym has no business trying to control Sabrina, but needs to get Jeremiah under control,” they said.  (Or better yet, she needed to break up with Jeremiah because he’s a player who was screwing with Sabrina’s head.)

Then there were my exes.  I never was jealous of Peter’s female friends, yet he accused me (not to me, but to a mutual friend) of a “jealous look.”

This was ridiculous because I was not jealous of his friends, whether male or female.  He had a female friend he wrote to often; I was not even jealous of her, though I’d never even met her.

If anything, he may have misinterpreted my frustration the last few weeks of the relationship, when we’d be at lunch but he gave me zero attention, focusing instead on the other people at the table.  Then whenever we walked around campus, he’d act like he didn’t want to be with me.

He spent very little time with me outside of class and lunch during those last few weeks, yet gave me no, or angry, attention when we were together.

My feeling ignored, is no reason to break up with me or use as some kind of justification for the breakup, telling all his friends I was jealous when I was not.  If you read my college memoirs, you can see how he manipulated me, and later conducted a smear campaign against me.

Phil told me we should tell each other when we were attracted to someone else, so a breakup wouldn’t be a surprise.

Then he spent all summer telling me he wanted three wives: me, his brother’s fiancée, and some other girl who liked him.  We’d go get some fast food and he’d tell me he wanted to take the big-breasted girl at the drive-thru window, into the back of his minivan.

He also told me he was a sex addict who–if we weren’t living together that summer–would not be able to control himself from sleeping around.

When I got upset at him telling me about all these women he wanted to sleep with, he called me “possessive.”

Then, near the end of our relationship, when I told him (as per his instructions, above) that I was attracted to our friend Mike, he went ballistic.  Tried to force me to tell Mike.  Tried to force me to make a decision between us, even though I was already with Phil.

Even got a friend of his, Dirk, to lecture and harangue me because I told Phil I loved him but liked Mike.  It was hypocrisy.

Oh yeah, people like this are everywhere, male and female.  They’re the jealous ones, but accuse you of “inappropriate” behavior while they’re allowed to do whatever they like. 

Don’t let them; if you have never slept with the people they’re jealous about, then get away from them if they won’t listen to reason, because it won’t get better over time. 

As you can see from Sofia Lee’s post, jealousy is used to isolate you from people who see the abuse for what it is, and can help you.

 

Reblog: Photo Essay Shows How Abusers Manipulate Victims

Tonight I have found three blog posts of particular note:

Sara Naomi Lewkowicz, a photographer, put together a photo essay called Photographer as Witness: A Portrait of Domestic Violence.  She didn’t go into this job planning to portray domestic violence; it just happened.

There has been some flak over her not stepping in, but keep in mind that she’s a woman, and that the police told her she could have done nothing to help, that the violence could have gotten worse.

Of course, there were others in the house, so I wonder why they didn’t gang up on the guy after calling the police?  But in any case, her photographs became important evidence against the abuser.

Photo Essay Shows How Abusers Manipulate Victims is Amanda Marcotte’s response to this photo essay.  She shows, step-by-step, how abusers can turn anyone into a victim who does not leave.

Then there is Darth Vader is a tricksy hobbit.  I don’t agree that we should be cutting off abuse victims from venting just because it bugs us, but rather put up boundaries in ourselves to keep from getting overly caught up in another’s pain. But this blog gives an excellent explanation of why abuse victims don’t just leave and get it over with, and why we should support them anyway.

As a witness and confidante to the abuses of Tracy against Richard, I did not follow what this blog recommended; I did not feel it was right to stay silent; I could not force myself to be more than a polite acquaintance to Tracy.

Tracy, like Shane, the abuser in the photo essay (pictures 18 and 19, see captions), twisted my friendship with Richard into something it wasn’t, and my actions into something they weren’t, because I saw her abuses for what they were.

I have always been a fierce defender of my friends; I could not hide my contempt for her verbally abusing, controlling and slapping my best friend Richard while she lived in my house.

So I became her target, as she manipulated Richard into believing the worst about me, until she finally found a reason to blow up at me, turn Richard against me, and force me to submit to her–so I cut her out of my life instead.

My blogs–which Richard and Tracy read a little more than a year ago–went into great detail about how horrible Tracy acted, and vented how I felt about Richard for staying and for helping her abuse me.

But I did not expect them to ever find the blogs; that was accidental.  I never meant to tell Richard all those things I felt about him staying with her and putting up with her bull****.

However, a feeling of guilt over that victim-blaming, is tempered by the discovery that Richard is also very abusive.  You can read it all in my story, here: “The Darkness Engulfs Me.”

I began to realize, after discovering that Richard had choked his 9-year-old daughter to unconsciousness, how he had manipulated me as well.  I still believe his stories of Tracy’s abuse, because I saw it for myself.

But I now see myself as a pawn he used to drive Tracy’s jealousy, to keep her tied to him, and my husband and me as pawns used by both of them against each other, while also manipulating my husband and me into feeling pity for them and giving them all sorts of stuff.

Richard would make a show of not wanting us to help them, yet somehow we kept finding out they were “in trouble”–again–and offering food/money/etc.

So not only were Richard and Tracy manipulating and abusing each other, but they were also manipulating and abusing me.

Over time, Richard was Tracy’s proxy, grooming me by trying to convince me that I was behaving horribly to Tracy, and subtly trying to make me believe that I deserved her ire for how I “behaved.”

Then this happened, when Tracy found a reason to blow up at me verbally:

6) Once the victim is groomed, wait for an opportunity to claim she provoked you, and then beat her. Maggie said jealous stuff to Shane, so he had his pretext to claim she provoked him. –from Photo essay shows how abusers manipulate victims

What Richard did in keeping me tied to him, is pretty much what is described here, but without the sex/romance/marriage parts:

One of the most heartbreaking truths is that feeling love, hearing all the words you’ve ever wanted to hear someone say to you about love, having the most intense sexual chemistry, being able to stay up all night and have long, deep, intense conversations about the things in your heart do not necessarily mean that you can build a happy life with someone.

They do not necessarily guarantee that the person who generates all those feelings will be kind to you and treat you as you deserve.

So when someone describes abusive or unkind behaviors we’re quick to say “That’s not really love” or “You shouldn’t love him” or “he doesn’t really love you” or “DTMFA.”

And we’re not necessarily wrong to think that or to say that. Obviously I personally think it’s important to fight against the way that our culture pressures people, especially women, to stay in romantic relationships even when they aren’t working.

But when we treat someone’s feelings as unreal or unimportant in skipping to the part where they should do what we want them to, we forget that finding out that the person who makes you feel such intense feelings is not really good for you and that it’s not going to end well is fucking shattering.

Breaking off a relationship that has been important to you, even if it was a dysfunctional one, entails feelings of extreme grief on the way to whatever relief and freedom is possible.

Take out the parts about sexual chemistry and make it into a friendship scenario, and you’ll see why it was so hard to break off the friendship with Richard, even with his gaslighting, devaluing/discarding, and Tracy’s abuses.

Also, I am a very shy, quiet person, as well as an introvert, who struggles to make friends, so I was very lonely.  I have had many deep, abiding friendships in my life, but most of those friends live far away now, and I had always wanted a friend who would be my “bosom friend” (as Anne Shirley terms it), who would always be there throughout my life.

Richard seemed to be that friend.

(Don’t say that’s my husband’s job.  He’s my husband; that’s a different role altogether; you don’t sleep with your friends.  Everybody needs friends outside their marriage.)

And yes, breaking off the friendship did cause extreme grief which continues to this day.

Richard also groomed me in this way:

People in abusive relationships are used to being told what to do and how to feel. They are also used to having a lot of drama – extremely high highs and low lows – as normal.

An abuser will try to convince a victim that their feelings aren’t real or don’t matter. And they will try to convince them that really outlandish, not okay behaviors are normal and okay.

And that it’s normal & expected to have screaming fights, or be constantly dealing with cheating & jealousy & control, or to have sex when you don’t really want to.

An abuser’s message is: This is normal and also the best you can ever expect from life. If you told other people, they wouldn’t believe you. –from Darth Vader is a tricksy hobbit

Richard didn’t have screaming fights with me etc., but when I objected to how Tracy treated him, he tried to make me believe these things are normal and not abusive.

Not only that, but when Tracy screamed at me over Facebook and wanted to scream at me in person as well, Richard and Tracy both tried to make me think this was “normal,” that “99 percent” of people would behave the same way she was behaving over my supposedly horrible “behavior.”

If you want to read an in-depth account of the psychological twisting done by abusers, just read my accounts linked above, which were written a short time after the abuse occurred.