Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: sycophant (page 1 of 3)

The Avenger Starts a Flame War (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 2)–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–March 1995, Part 4

I previously wrote about “the Avenger” here.

I soon discovered the full extent of Avenger’s abusive personality: You could call her the teenage version of Tracy, another abusive and/or personality-disordered bully whom I met later on in life.

Avenger and her boyfriend Lima constantly carried out smear campaigns against innocent people with reckless abandon, yet still some people were so ridiculous as to try to tell me Avenger was a nice person.

Soon after Gypsy’s party, Sharon heard there had been some sort of flame war over Pamela in the forums, and checked it out.  I did also, soon after.

Lima, Avenger and possibly others flamed Pamela and told everyone how “horrible” she was.  Pamela, of course, got upset.  I think she even tried to defend herself, but they just flamed her more.  In the end she said her presence in the forums just brought on more trouble, so she wasn’t going to read or write anything in them anymore.

It’s such a shame when nice people are forced out by mean ones.  It’s such a shame when a bully chooses to justify his or her behavior rather than repenting of it.

I was so upset by this that I wrote a post chewing out Avenger and Lima, and anyone else flaming Pamela, for bullying her.  I unwisely accused them of immaturity–though, as you see in the link above, immaturity is a common trait of bullies–which would keep coming back to haunt me.

Avenger wrote a scathing reply, but she seemed to disagree and yet agree with me at the same time, as Speaker said when I met him on the 8th.

She seemed to defend her actions, and yet say that we should all respect Pamela and let the thread die.  She was sure one to talk about respecting Pamela!  She was as guilty as the rest of them of harassing her.

Lima complained that the thread was old and people should look at the dates of the messages.  Though, from what I’d seen in teleconference, what I said still needed to be said: Even if the thread had died, their harassment of Pamela hadn’t.

Avenger also insisted, “I am mature.”  My future husband Cugan told me once that this statement showed she was immature.  He said immature people don’t like being told they’re immature.

Meanwhile, Speaker avoided Avenger, and often typed “ignore Avenger” when he went online.  When he did this, nothing she did or said online showed up on his computer, as if she were never there.  She was harassing him now.  She knew his embarrassing real name, and teased him about it, among other things.

Once, I found Pigpen and Speaker online, and Pigpen said to Speaker, “Is Avenger being mean to you again?”  (Speaker told me once that he didn’t know why Pigpen and Cankersore liked to come see him every Saturday.)

Stimpy soon sent me an e-mail saying, “Please don’t say any more to them about this.  Do this for me!”  They were vicious people who loved arguing, and that was all I would get out of them.

So I stopped saying anything in that thread.

Probably around the time of the Big Flame War, which happened later that month, Avenger and some of her friends voted in one of the forums on whether or not Franz, whom some of us called Znarf, was cool.

(Franz was in college now, a freshman at MSOE, or Milwaukee School of Engineering, which was also Cugan’s alma mater.)

I voted that he was cool.  Avenger said my vote didn’t count because only the cool people could vote.

Apparently she meant that only her worshippers could vote.  She didn’t seem to want to have anyone else on the BBS considered “cool” except for her and her cronies, and if you disagreed, she ripped into you.

As far as I was considered, everyone in her clique was very uncool, while nice people like my roommates, Krafter, Stimpy, Ish, Speaker, and others were cool.

According to Love Our Children, such polls are yet another means of cyberbullying.

Check out the answer to the “Bullies prey on the weak” myth here: It says, among other things, that “bullies prey on people with a kind heart” and “bullies are irresponsible people who refuse to accept personal responsibility for their behaviour and the effect of their behaviour on other people.”

Also look at the answers to “Victims are unlikeable” and “People who get bullied are wimps”: Basically, these are myths, the victims are normally likeable, and their good points are seen by bullies as vulnerabilities.  Let’s not let bullies decide for us who the cool people are.

Even after discovering that Avenger found this chapter of my Memoirs

–I keep this story in here and haven’t tempered the wording.  This is why:

Because bullying in any form has always been, always will be.  The victims need to know that it’s not right, they’re not weirdos, and they don’t have to let the bullies decide who they are or what they can accomplish.  

Victims of bullying can read the articles I linked to, for ideas on how to combat bullying.  Bystanders can get past the myths and stand up for the bullied.

A year or two after this, Avenger tried to ridicule and harass another woman (who was older than she was, which, I believe, Pamela was too), the same as she did to Pamela.  She said this woman had done something bad to one of her friends.

I didn’t know the other woman’s side, so I don’t know what really happened.  But whatever the case, I thought Avenger should not be carrying this harassment out in the open on the public forums.  I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to see this in the forums.

The woman found Avenger’s comments amusing–things like, she was ugly and fat–and zinged her right back, which I admired her for.  The forum-op broke in and said if the argument continued, she would move it to the Pit forum (which was for arguing).

I think this Avenger is a narcissist, or more likely a sociopath, because of her constant bullying of so many people.  And the way she quickly took offense at NOTHING, flamed you, and then you became her enemy for life.

This was in US News and World Report for March 22, 1999, in the article “E-Mail Nation”:

Emboldened by E-mail’s seeming anonymity, kids send bomb threats to school and hate mail to teachers–and are often suspended from school if caught.  Moreover, they could be sued for libel, says attorney Christopher Wolf of Washington, D.C., if they defame someone’s character in an E-mail (p. 58).

So Avenger was treading dangerous territory here.  She could get in serious trouble if she ridiculed and harassed the wrong person.

I haven’t been on TCB for some time (it’s March 24, 1999), because a couple years later it had become a haven for people like her, and most of the nice people had left.  So for all I know, it’s already happened, and she’s been slapped with a libel suit or two.

After all, she’s not exactly anonymous on TCB: She’d be easy to track down and sue.

Okay, now it’s May 19, 1999, and I’ve been on TCB again.  No one seems to use it for anything other than games and the Internet, so even Avenger hasn’t been on for a while and Lima’s account has been deleted.

Avenger seemed like the ringleader of a clique which worshipped her.  The “clique” title fits because other people were kept out and ridiculed.

Ish said privately to me once, after I read a message from Lima, that Lima just did whatever Avenger did and didn’t seem to have a mind of his own.

Also, Avenger, Lima and a few of the others couldn’t even type a regular, non-flame message without cussing.  Since the BBS was set up to censor such words, their messages kept showing a bunch of asterisks, making them hard to understand.  If the words didn’t show up anyway, why bother writing them?

And the whiny group kept crying “censorship” because their swear words didn’t show up, even though it was a family BBS, and the sysop CD had every right to restrict such words on his own BBS.

As for Avenger, she had a serious persecution complex: She thought everyone over twenty (Lima’s age) was out to get her and all teenagers, and owed her something.  No matter what anyone said, no matter what the subject or how totally unrelated to kids, in her mind it must have been a cutdown on kids.

Not only that, but she and her clique showed absolutely no respect for authority, cutting down on the sysop just as viciously as anyone else–despite the fact that he could ban them all from the BBS if he wanted to.

She’ll get nowhere with that attitude, and if she treats people that way, that’s how she’s going to be treated: It’s the “what goes around, comes around” thing.  Just wait until she has teenagers just like her (though I do hope her and Lima’s future kids will rebel against them and become nice, sweet, wonderful people, like Saffy in Absolutely Fabulous).

I liked to play online with a teenager named Mustang, and we shared stories of our genies (mine was Zara, and I think his was Abu).  To my surprise, I found one day (probably after the Flame War) that he was getting to be good friends with the clique.  I really, really hoped he wouldn’t start acting like them, since he was such a nice, fun guy.

The Big Flame War began after Gypsy’s party and before the BBS party on March 18th, 1995.  I believe it went on for several weeks, so in the beginning I may have still been dating Stimpy (or just broken up with him), and in the end I was with Cugan.

This is how it began: In one of the forums, probably /events, CD and others discussed the BBS bowling party, which was to be on the 18th.  They wondered what time it should be, and suggested some late evening times.

Sharon posted that they should keep in mind that many users were under eighteen and might have curfews; the time should be early enough for them to join in the fun, too.  She was just being sensitive to the needs of the kids online.

That’s it.

Avenger posted, “ExCUSE me!” and how sick she was of adults looking down on kids like that.

????!!!!?????!!!!!?????!!!!!

It was a clear case of someone not reading a message thoroughly and reading in things that were never there.  Stimpy quoted her and replied simply, “Um–um–what?  Um–um–what?”

No matter how much Sharon tried to explain that she didn’t mean it that way, Avenger refused to listen to her.  Instead, Avenger insulted her in various ridiculous ways.  For example, she accused her of sleeping with her professors to get good grades.

Irate at Avenger for defaming my smart and virtuous friend, I wrote that she was totally wrong, and told her off.  I did for Sharon what I would want a friend to do for me.

Avenger and her clique began a vicious attack on the both of us, making personal remarks and cutting us down.  And this all because Sharon was trying to be sensitive to the needs of the younger users!

I didn’t know back then that this was called trolling, or baiting people to start fights online.  I didn’t know that it was best to ignore such mean, rude people, aka, “Don’t feed the trolls.”

Sharon apparently didn’t know this, either, because we both got caught up in a Big Flame War with Avenger and her clique, which included Nobody and Sub-Zero.

Avenger and her cronies threw around all sorts of personal remarks like you hear from children on the playground: making fun of our looks and clothes, calling us “dorky,” ridiculous crap like that.  They proved themselves to be just as immature and childish as Avenger insisted they were not.

I didn’t do that to them.  Heck, even as a child, I did not behave in such a ridiculous fashion.  There is no need to go into details; flame wars on the Internet are now a dime a dozen, and everyone knows now how they go.  But eventually all sorts of people began taking both sides.

When the contested bowling party finally happened, Pearl joined Sharon and me.  Though Pearl and I didn’t bowl, we all joined a group with Krafter, CD, and Ish.  Avenger and her clique were in the lane right next to ours, and CD joked, “Nobody say anything about maturity!”

Avenger ignored us all, of course.  This was Pearl’s first look at Avenger.  She later told Sharon and me that Avenger had this snobby or snotty way of holding her head and looking at people, which Pearl imitated for us.  She said, “It was like she was thinking, ‘I’m hot.'”

Though Pearl wasn’t in the Flame War (and was sick of hearing Sharon and me say “Avenger this” and “Avenger that”), one night she found Avenger online, and argued with her about how Avenger treated us.

One girl told me that Pigpen was two-faced, and would seem nice, then do something really mean to you.  Pigpen pretended to be this girl’s friend, then stabbed her in the back.  I forget the details, but it had something to do with the girl’s brother.

This put me on guard against Pigpen being two-faced to me.  Pigpen had seemed like my friend because I was friends with Speaker.  But now she turned two-faced to me, too, joining in with the Avenger clique, making me believe this girl told the truth.

I got all my forum replies in my BBS inbox, so I couldn’t stay away from them simply by avoiding the forums.

Keep in mind, Pearl’s computer was an 8088, and had no mouse or Windows OS, which was in its infancy.  We were running on DOS.  Also, the BBS’s in S— were different from the ones back home in Indiana, so I didn’t know how everything worked.

On BBS’s in 1995, you got your messages immediately on logging in.  It’s not like an e-mail program in Windows which lets you look at a list of headers before deciding what to read.  Some e-mail programs even let you delete without opening, though Thunderbird does not do this.

But there was no such option on this BBS.  The BBS sent me each message as I logged in, and I had to open it before deleting it.  So every time my bullies replied to one of my forum posts, it came directly to my attention and I had to see what they wrote.

I was increasingly bombarded again and again and again by these creeps, with no way to get away from them, unless I stopped going on TCB.

And why should I be forced away from my new online friends and all the fun of playing games with them, when I had done nothing wrong?  This was also my principal means of communicating with my new boyfriend Stimpy and with Krafter, whom I now knew personally, not just online.

So every time I logged in, I’d get all these attacks in my inbox, and tried to defend myself against them.

Not only did they make personal remarks (calling me ugly etc. etc.), but they twisted my words and told lies about me on the forums, which the more gullible kids began to believe, so they started defending the bullies!

Since they kept attacking my friends and me, I kept defending, since nobody ever told me this was not the way to deal with bullies.  When our friends stepped in to defend Sharon and me, they got hit with the bullying, too.

Yet more proof that Avenger is a narcissist and maybe other Cluster B personality disorder as well–probably even a sociopath–surrounded by sycophants and sociopaths who mob-bullied anybody she wanted.  And no, there was no justification for what they did, no matter what they dreamed up in their sick little minds.  This was a cold, calculated smear campaign.

This whole thing also did a number on my self-esteem, making me doubt myself and my looks, and wonder if I was as awful as they said.  I wasn’t, of course, but the residual effects lingered long afterwards.

I believe it went on for weeks.  I was so upset that I carried it through my days, thinking of it even as I sat in class.  I felt like the dork and retard these creeps called me.

I shouldn’t have let little Avenger and her pipsqueak friends get to me like that, but I did.  It was like middle school all over again.  (And yet she insisted she was mature….)

One big problem with bullying is the way sensitive, kind people are made to look like idiots and nerds by the insensitive, immature and unkind.

Instead of accepting it as a “part of life,” bullying of any kind should be stopped by bystanders and/or those in authority: teachers, parents, forum moderators.  

When a bully is supported by his friends, when authority figures aren’t interested in stepping in–even resorting to blaming you for the bullying, when the bully “gets away with it”–this makes it much harder for the bullied to reach “closure.”

At one point, I heard that harassment online was illegal, so I sent a message to CD asking him to step in.  He said the best thing to do would be to ignore Avenger, Lima and Nobody, and they would get bored and go away.

What he really should’ve done was ban the whole lot of them–

–not just for their constant bullying and harassment of me so I couldn’t even log in in peace–

–but for how they bullied so many others on the forum, gang-style, and occasionally chased people away. 

As I noted earlier, that BBS became overrun with flaming gangs and eventually died.  Not banning bullies is a good way to allow your BBS/forum to be overrun with bullies, while the victims get no justice.

CD and Krafter set up a secret, invitation-only forum, which would not show up in the list of forums.  This way, only the nice people could be in the forum and wouldn’t have to deal with the Avenger trolls.  (I didn’t know this usage of the word “troll” until 1998, so I didn’t actually call them that.)

It was called the /elite forum, and in the beginning included maybe a handful or a dozen people: me, Sharon, Pearl, Ish, Krafter, Stimpy, CD, a young girl named Grace and her boyfriend.  If one of us wanted a friend to join, we mentioned the friend in the forum.  If everyone agreed, this person was invited in.

This worked for a few days, but then Lima, Grace’s brother (talk about siblings who are total opposites), came over by the computer and saw the /elite forum when Grace was online one day.  He got mad, wanted his own forum, and told the others in the Avenger clique, who promptly cried, “Censorship!”

This was ridiculous: Forums often have private sections like this, whether for the admins/moderators, or for people to discuss how they’ve been abused without the abusers and trolls finding it, or for some other reason.

(The Forum has such a section.)

This was the abusers and bullies finding the sanctuary and refusing to let anyone have peace and quiet without their trolling, to let their targets have a safe place to get together without their bullies harassing them.

The /elite forum was scrapped, especially when CD or one of the others decided maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.  The Pit, or /thepit, however, was formed.  Here, anyone could argue all they wanted, but it had to be kept out of all the other forums.  We applauded this improvement.

I finally wrote a message intending to end the whole thing.  I set things straight about accusations made against me, which some of the kids believed merely on Avenger’s word, and said I would stop my part of the argument:

To ALL

I’d like to set a few things straight to everyone who’s been reading this forum, especially to those who seem to think Avenger is some sort of hero for standing up to those ‘b—- college students who think they’re better than us high-schoolers.’

I don’t care anymore if Avenger or Nobody hates me. Avenger’s friends say she’s ‘nice’ and ‘cool’; well, maybe she is in real life, but I’m not dealing with her in real life, I’m dealing with her on here, and this is the persona she’s chosen to have online.

She’s chosen to treat myself (and others) this way online.

I did not start the argument and neither did Sharon; it was, I admit, stupid of me to respond to what was said to me, and be an ‘easy target’; but I learn from my mistakes and will know better next time.

Now I am trying to end this once and for all so there can be peace, or at least a truce. Also, I don’t want everyone hating me without reason.

I never cut on the age or intelligence of anyone in here. I have not made personal remarks, which the argument has turned to. I have merely responded (though ill-advisedly) to remarks made to me, with ‘an equal and opposite reaction.’

Such as IQ’s, etc.–that was merely a sarcastic response to being called a ‘tard,’ as Nobody termed it. I said nothing about his or anybody else’s intelligence, only mine.

As for age–I have nothing against high-school students. I used to be one myself. What I’m against is the immaturity many high-schoolers have, and also–brace yourself for my unexpected admission–many college students.

I am against immaturity in general, especially when it is the cause of someone else’s relationship problems. Many high-schoolers are also–gasp–mature.

But it usually irritates someone older to see blatant immaturity and popularity games in a group of younger people. It irritates me.

Also Sharon was concerned about younger users having curfews and not being able to go to the bowling party.

I have a note which says, “and might not be able to join in the fun,” though I’m not sure where that was supposed to fit in the sentence.

We had curfews too, everyone under eighteen has curfews (usually), and she was concerned. Her message was the focal point of the argument, originally; it has gone too far off base and has no further purpose.

There has been a lot of assuming, reading between the lines, and twisting of words going on here. There have also been personal comments made to me that are actually ludicrous because they’re the opposite of what I really am or look like.

I’ve had many intellectual conversations here and elsewhere, I’m most definitely not ugly, and the thought of ME being a conformist just makes me burst out laughing! Go ahead, tell me more! I like a good laugh.

Plus, Avenger, I never called you–to yourself or to anyone else, not even to myself–a “dumb blonde.”

I do not believe in the concept of dumb blondes. I have at least four blonde friends (natural blonde) who are very intelligent, as well as brunette friends who, it is said (as a joke, not as a rip), ‘are blonde but their hair doesn’t know it.”  (I did not make up this phrase; an intelligent AND blonde friend of mine likes to say it.) And I was in an environmental group in high school.

This paragraph referred to things said by Avenger, such as “you may think I’m a dumb blonde but I’ve been accepted to UW-Stout and I’m in an environmentalist group.”

Anyone who has thought I meant differently about anything than I did, I’m sorry you took it wrong, but you must realize how it was truly intended. And please, before getting on the bandwagon of one side, look at the other side as well.

Plus–I do realize this is the /argue forum, for arguments. Argue away, but if someone doesn’t want to argue, let them be instead of harassing them. It’s much easier on everyone.

}] Nyssa[{

Four years later, this letter still makes me proud.  Ish, one of my supporters, saw my letter and approved.

I soon checked the responses, however: It was just Lima saying, “Blah blah blah,” nothing more intelligent from any of them, and Lima saying we must worship them (or something like that) before we could ever be in their good graces.

Like I even wanted to be in the good graces of a group of bullies.

What, did he get the silly idea that I was apologizing?  I did no such thing!  Obviously he didn’t actually read the post.  Do you see an apology to the bullies anywhere in that post?

I complained to Ish about these responses.  He said that group doesn’t want to read anything longer than a few paragraphs.

Considering how mean these people were in general, I suppose I shouldn’t have expected that they’d listen to me and lay off.  After all, that would violate the sociopath code.

But back then, I didn’t understand this about bullies, having the naïve notion that bullies could be talked into reasonable behavior and apologizing.

Ish and I were in tele when Lima, probably Avenger, and maybe others showed up.  I whispered to Ish that I would act nice to these people because, as the Bible says, that would “pour burning coals over their heads.”

I greeted Lima with the usual “hello Lima bean–olleh amil neab,” but he made some strange remark about “groupies.”  Then he started talking about bowing down and worshipping him!  I certainly didn’t do that, though I may have joked around a bit.

Then Lima and the others ganged up on me, despite my attempts to be nice, and treated me the same as they did Pamela.  Sharon, watching, said I should show them a thing or two by just leaving, so I did.  I then paged Ish about it, and he consoled me.

Sharon wrote a post to everyone saying that those who adopt online “personas” different from their own personalities, should realize that some people online are real, not “personas,” and do get hurt in real life by things they read online.

For the next several days, I refused to go into the forums.  I may even have stayed away from the BBS for a couple days.

CD soon forced Avenger to apologize to Sharon, which she did, sort of, with a public message in the forums.

I was upset, though, because she apologized only to Sharon when she should have also apologized to me.  I deserved an apology for her b**chiness and bullying of me, just as much as Sharon did.

I don’t remember how CD made her apologize to Sharon–maybe he finally threatened to ban her from the board–but it was a victory for our side.

(Either late that year or in the next year, Avenger wrote on the forums how much she liked Third Rock From the Sun, and sympathized with the aliens for being different and being misunderstood.  She actually said she didn’t make fun of people for how they look or dress, because that was stupid.

(LOL

(What a liar and a hypocrite!  She made all sorts of personal remarks about my looks and dress during the Big Flame War, and accused me of being a snob when I was merely quiet and shy!)

Around this time, CD or Krafter posted a warning to all the users on TCB to not use the same password on different BBS’s.

I didn’t go on Solaris, a rival BBS, very much, especially since it was apparently just some kid trying to go up against TCB instead of just having his own BBS and supporting all the other ones in the area.

But it was popular with the Avenger clique, who figured out people’s passwords (such as Pamela’s), began logging in as those users, and left nasty messages to other users and on the forums.

The innocent users looked bad and had to explain that no, they didn’t write the messages.  I was afraid to go on Solaris during the Flame War, for fear the same thing would happen to me.

This is yet another form of cyberbullying and trolling, which still happens online all the time.

This makes me wonder if Lima and Avenger (who got married eventually) and their sycophants have gone on to become hackers and trolls, spreading hate and trouble throughout the Net, hacking into people’s accounts, spreading viruses, etc.

Because you can see above that they behaved just like those sociopath trolls we still find all over the Net, doing the very same things to harass people–for fun.

In maybe 2006 or 2007, Avenger found these memoirs and posted in my guestbook.  She said little other than that I have “an interesting perspective” on what happened.

Mindblowing.

She must have been well into her 20s by then, and more than 10 years had passed. 

Yet she still thought SHE was right, and did not apologize for her actions.

My childhood bullies tended to apologize to me years later, yet she still had this twisted, false view of herself. 

Don’t most people GROW UP eventually?

Yet more evidence that this bully was still stuck at 16. 

Though when I was 16, I didn’t behave that way, and neither did most people I knew, so age is no excuse for her behavior.

After all, this is yet another way she behaved just like Tracy, another possible sociopath I had the misfortune to cross paths with in 2007. 

Sociopaths will laugh at you for calling them abusers, and refuse to admit wrongdoing or apologize for their bullying and abuse.

And that’s what Tracy and the Avenger both did.

 

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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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 the narcissist admits to manipulating people and using them as pawns in his game with me–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 11

Sometime soon after the breakup, Phil told me he’d been bathing now–actually bathing, soap and everything–and brushing his teeth, so he could attract women.  He even shaved sometimes as well.

I don’t know why he told me this, but it was insulting.  So, he wouldn’t bathe more than once every two months for his own wife, but he’d bathe daily for complete strangers?

And he’d even been watching a dating network on S–’s Marcus Cable.  He just breaks up with me, and the bed’s not even cold before he starts looking around for another girlfriend!  Man, what a loser.

Before September 19, and probably around the 14th, Pearl told me about a journal that she and some others were going to start.  I asked to be a part of it.  It was going to pass from one hand to another, with each person writing a little something in it.  It would be me, Pearl, Sharon, Tara, Mike and Astrid.

While Carol was still at Roanoke, she and Pearl did this with each other.  When they wrote in it often, they got along just fine; when they neglected it, their relationship suffered.  We carried on this journal for maybe 16 years using group e-mails and a Yahoo group, before Facebook made it moot.

Friday, September 16.  It was odd to eat breakfast each morning at the dining table, because since late sophomore or early junior year, I didn’t get up for breakfast at all.

Junior year, my only breakfast was a handful of M&M’s from a big bag, which got me through the few hours before lunch.  Of course, after a while they seemed to do odd things to my stomach, so I figured they’d gone bad and stopped eating them.  I may have then started eating dry cereal from those little individual-serving boxes.

I loved eating breakfast from our own little kitchen on our own big dining table.  I also washed my dishes each late morning or early afternoon, depending on when I had free time, since I only had one set and needed to use it each morning.

However, as I did I felt restless, alone, like a part of me was gone and I was waiting impatiently for its return.  I think that usually, no one else would be in the apartment at that time.

At 11am on the 16th, I went to see Counselor Dude about my Senior Writing Project.  This project was required for Writing majors to graduate.  I told him I’d decided to work on Jerisland, the desert island novel I’d been writing and revising since 1988 (and periodically mention here), and I said,

“I’d better warn you that it’s a Christian novel!”–since, after all, his atheist beliefs were well-known.

“That’s OK,” he said, probably not too surprised–it was me, after all.  “I’ve read Christian novels before.”

****

On possibly Saturday the 17th or the previous Saturday, Anna invited me into her suite room after dinner.  It was homey to be in a suite again, if only for a few hours.  We had a long talk, and I discovered, in some amusing incident with a fly in the room, that I could joke and even belly-laugh.  We both noticed I was taking this much better than the time Peter broke up with me.

In fact, I might wake up in the middle of the night and feel despair and/or a restlessness, a sense that time was oppressive and I had too long to wait before Phil came back to me.  But it didn’t make me lie awake all night.  I could get a decent night’s sleep each night, even the Friday night after the breakup, instead of just lying there waiting for morning to come (as with the breakup with Peter).

Over the next few months as I read through the biblical book of Job, I felt the loss, the wondering why, practically everything Job went through.  Job asked for a trial, him against God; I wanted a trial against Phil that vindicated me against Phil’s actions, claims and complaints.  The ending of Job gave me some hope for the future, though I didn’t yet know what it would mean for me to be given back more than had been taken away.

****

Monday, September 19.  I wrote in my diary that I’d just had a long talk with Phil, and things weren’t as bad as Dirk made them seem.  He had the wrong idea about the situation.

Not only did Dirk have the wrong idea, Phil said he could act in front of Dirk and control what Dirk thought of things, what he thought was going on, how he thought Phil reacted and felt.

Even when Dirk said Phil was so depressed one night that he felt he had no friends, and everyone in Dirk’s apartment tried to tell him this wasn’t true–IT WAS AN ACT!  Phil said, “I’m that good of an actor.”

Why would he manipulate his own friend like that?  Unfortunately, this question did not come to mind.  I was so much in love and grieving that I missed this huge red flag, that Phil was playing us all like chess pieces: Dirk, Persephone, the people in Dirk’s apartment, even me.

But now, Phil revealed that he wasn’t nearly as angry as I had been led to believe.  Phil’s manipulation of Dirk caused Dirk to suggest he get a restraining order, but Phil said that was ridiculous.

Dirk, however, had been so controlled by Phil’s great act that he told me (probably as a scare tactic) that Phil was thinking of getting such an order (which Mom called the most ridiculous thing she’d ever heard).  Phil reassured me now that he had no such intention.

So from Phil’s own lips, I got confirmation that Dirk was a pawn used for Phil’s Control by Proxy.  This explains why Dirk would get such a daffy idea as a restraining order on a harmless person who would never think of stalking or harming anyone.

This is a tactic used by abusers and narcissists, controlling their prey using third parties, as you can read if you click on the above link.

Not only that, but months before, Phil admitted he was spoiled like his nephew Taylor at about age four.  He recalled wanting a certain book, and manipulating his mother by throwing a tantrum until she got it for him.  So he started this behavior early.

In my diary entry, I mentioned Phil was in the fall play.  He got a part in Measure for Measure.  He said the theater director chose Shakespeare plays this year to avoid the controversy of the previous year.

He said a relationship with him right then would be hell anyway because he’d have no time for me: the play, work, school, pledging Zetas, etc.

(Though that didn’t stop him from starting one with Persephone a couple of weeks later.  That’s the second time a guy gave me the “I won’t have time for you” line.  It proves that if you want something, you’ll make time for it.)

My leaving him alone completely after he told me to, probably influenced what he said now (and made an RO especially ridiculous).

Phil agreed that we could be friends and write letters to each other, so one day I wrote him a nice, friendly letter.  He came to talk to me about it in the laundry room.

He said that even though we weren’t “engaged” (as he now called it, rather than “married”) anymore, I was still one of his potential “buyers,” and we could go on dates.

On Tuesday, he said we could only be acquaintances and I had no more chances; now, he reversed that, and began saying again, “Keep the faith.”  He said, “I’m tempted to kiss you, but I won’t because it wouldn’t be fair to you.”

The outcome of the laundry room conversation was so wonderful and comforting and encouraging that it made me happy for a time.  I felt Phil and I were now friends, despite everything, and told Dad about it.  I told Dad why Phil wouldn’t kiss me, and that it was so noble, honorable, of him.

So far, it seemed that this breakup was much better than the one with Peter, not just because of how I took it, but because of how Phil acted.

****

Sharon said if Phil never came to see me in the library again, the librarians wouldn’t be sad: When he hung around the circulation desk when I worked, not only did he make it hard for me to do my homework, but he scared people away from the desk and annoyed everyone.

I tried to keep him from drinking his Big Slam Mountain Dew bottles in the library, and Seymour complained about it to him.  He kept trying to get around this, drinking over by the chair under the window near the door to the lobby, saying it wasn’t actually “in” the library.  But I kept getting after him for it.

Pearl didn’t think Phil was a Christian, because he didn’t act much like one.  At least, not anymore.  I said, “I think he is; he’s just misguided.”  He was going astray and didn’t care.

“There are so many people,” Pearl said, “who claim to be Christians, but they don’t act like they’ve made God the Lord of their lives.”  This isn’t about whether you drink or dance, but about how you treat people.  And as an abuser, Phil gave Pearl plenty of reason to doubt his salvation.

I soon got to the point where I called my parents less and less often for advice on this.

My dad told me about fleeces, like in Gideon’s story in Judges, which I could put out to see what God wanted to tell me.  It’s not really “testing” God: That’s something different.

Dad said I could ask God to open or close a door (not literally, of course), and He would do this.  He also said that fleeces should be put out twice, as Gideon did his, to make sure that the answer was really from God and not just a coincidence.

What you do is, you either ask for your friends to do something a certain way, maybe something they often do, or you ask for something else specific to happen, and that will be a yes.  The answer can also come at a time when you least expect it: It pops into your head.

You can also do a series of things: ask for fleeces, then ask God to open and close doors for you.  (By the way, I am NOT recommending this, but telling you how it was explained to me, and how I used it.  The outcome will come later.  I also write about this here.)

On my dad’s advice, I prayed that God would open a door if Phil was meant for me, or close a door if he was not.

Dad also kept saying Phil was emotionally unstable, that he had better talk to a priest or a counselor soon because otherwise he was going to go over the edge.  He said Phil was a yo-yo, always going back and forth.

On the 21st, I put out my first fleece–for my roommie Sharon to make a certain sigh she often made–and she did so.

I wrote in the Journal around this time, “If God means for men and women to be together and married, then why the heck did he make it so hard for us to understand each other??”

But something must have clicked in my head on the night of the 21st, because after going to bed, I wrote a diary entry by the light of my clock, which was fluorescent and gave out a lot of light: I was very angry with Phil at the time, and wrote it all down.

I won’t reproduce the entry here, which was a vent session, but I will quote the most interesting parts:

Me shifting blame, eh?  I don’t think so.  Up till now I’ve accepted just about all the blame that’s been heaped upon me.  Well, I say, no more!…

If you don’t think I’m worthy of you, then screw you!  You’re not worthy of me.

…You told me [many times during our relationship] to go find somebody better because you weren’t worthy of me.  Well, you have your wish.  I see your unworthiness, so off I go to find someone who is worthy.

I wrote that I could no longer trust him because of the fake dream hoax (also here and here), and because he turned both my weaknesses and strengths against me, then said I treated him bad.

“I didn’t treat you bad,” I wrote.

At the end, I wrote, “You take my virginity away and then say we’re not really married.  What a scumball thing to do.  Good-bye forever.”

The next morning, I was still angry, though a part of me wanted to see things work out.

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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Attack of Phil’s Flying Monkey and Sycophant: Dirk (Part 2)–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 10

(Part 1)

Here’s what Dirk said about InterVarsity.  This is where it really got ridiculous–and threatening:

Dirk said that after the “stink” over the play last year, InterVarsity had really given itself a bad image on campus.

(Never mind the fact that we didn’t do it to ourselves.  It was forced on us by others and by public opinion and rumor.)

There were a few other things, too.  Supposedly new people did not feel welcome.  Supposedly we were cliquish, though I don’t know where that came from.

But this was lie and rumor started by I have no clue who: Almost nobody but us ever came to the meetings to begin with!  When somebody did show up once in a blue moon, they were lavished with welcome because we wanted the group to grow.  We were also friends outside of the group, same as any other group of friends on campus.

Plus there was the way IV people treated Phil, and since Phil was his friend–and he was a very loyal friend–he hated IV for that.  An enemy of Phil’s was an enemy of his as well.

He gave IV a month to shape up, or else he’d go to the school president and tell him what we were really like, and we’d be banned from the campus.  The president would be surprised because IV was his darling.

But Dirk said I was not to tell Pearl who told me this, or he’d be my enemy as well: He was a powerful foe, as well as a powerful friend.

He said I should distance myself from IV, one reason being that “our friends are reflections of ourselves.”

But how could I do such a thing?

They had not treated Phil badly at all; it was all Phil’s imagination–or deliberate lying.  What they objected to was how he treated me, which is a perfectly legitimate reason not to like someone.

They were my dear friends (and three were my roommies now), with me long before Phil ever was, and IV was my church when I couldn’t get into town.

I’d been called one of the “core” members, and I didn’t think IV or the people in it were bad at all.

They had been there for me and stuck up for me during the troubles with Peter and Shawn.

My friends supported me now and tried to help me out now that Phil had dissed me; why would I be ungrateful and walk away?

And how on earth were these good people a bad reflection on me?

Hmmm….What does it reflect on Phil to have a friend like Dirk?

I now see that this was actually Phil’s latest attempt, through Dirk his proxy, to separate me from my friends, fitting the question,

“Does your partner isolate you from friends, family or groups?…Or you may have been asked (or told) to reduce or stop contact with specific supportive people in your life (Lilac Lane, Symptoms of Emotional Abuse).

Phil’s actions since the separation/divorce, from unpredictability (one day he’d be nice, the next he’d be rude), to irrationality (suddenly telling me we couldn’t be friends), fit the “Unpredictability and Uncertainty” section here.

The depths of deception and lies coming from Dirk were staggering.  All that hate he carried toward innocent people, over things which never happened!  Where on earth did it even come from?

It must have been Phil, lying and manipulating his Flying Monkey into swooping in and manipulating me as well.

There were other things, too, which showed the black hole of manipulation into which Phil had put him: Ridiculous, baffling things with no anchor in reality whatsoever.  Insults to my character, overblown reactions, accusations that I did things that I never did, recommendations to Phil which were absolutely ridiculous.

Obviously Phil had painted me to Dirk as some kind of psycho abusive witch who deserved nothing but scolding, nastiness, even legal action.  Phil had put him into the rabbit-hole, and tried to use him as a pawn to get me down into the rabbit-hole, too.

It was a massive gaslighting scheme, meant to strike fear into me, and finally break me into a submissive puppet who would do anything Phil wanted. 

Who would let him screw me up the backside even if I screamed in pain and couldn’t go to the bathroom for weeks. 

Who would perform oral sex on him no matter how disgusted I was, and no matter if he had not bathed in two months. 

Who would say nothing to him but “yessir.” 

Who would let him go on and on about all the girls he wanted to screw, and say nothing in protest. 

Who would somehow see my friends dissing him even when they were not, stand up to them for something they weren’t even doing, and cut them out of my life–

–allowing in only people like Dirk, whom he approved because he listened to everything Phil said and could be used to control me.

Dirk decided he needed to lecture me, and give me pointers on how to get a man, or I’d end up an old maid:

1)    Learn to compromise.

(Which was odd, because I compromised as much as I could without endangering my principles.  I liked to keep peace.  Phil was the one who needed to learn to compromise, because he constantly refused to do anything I wanted or needed, while insisting that I do what he wanted no matter how degrading, disgusting or painful.  What a mindscrew Phil did on Dirk!)

2)    Dress to impress.  Wear red, since that’s Phil’s favorite color.  Wear great clothes.

(But then, I did that already, so I have no idea why he said I didn’t.  I mean, I wore nice clothes, vests, even clothes that showed off my figure when I was feeling particularly daring–like that black knit vest.  Two people complimented me on how nicely I always dressed, and Anna once said I looked dressed-up, a compliment to my sense of style.)

3)    Go to more parties.  Even frat parties.  The kind I hate because they’re full of weed and alcohol.  But he said guys wouldn’t find me unless I did this.

(I wouldn’t have liked those guys, anyway!  The guys I wanted, would go to church picnics, NOT cruise parties for easy lays or sit around smoking weed with the Zetas.)

I want to make an impression my last year, don’t I?  instead of being forgotten? Basically, go out with a bang instead of quietly passing, which he feared I would do.

(Though on afterthought, I’m not so sure I’m forgettable among the people who have known me, and I didn’t know or care much about the freshmen anyway.  What business was it of his if I was a serious student and introvert, and didn’t like stupid, noisy, wild parties?)

4) Positive outlook.  This one doesn’t need too much explanation.

(I’m not sure why he even said this.  It had nothing to do with me.)

Dirk asked me, “Don’t you ever look at a guy and wonder what he’s like in bed?”

“No,” I said.

“Come on–everybody does–it’s not a man or woman thing, it’s a human thing to look around and wonder this!”

But I insisted that no, I didn’t.  I was shocked at him.  I was a Christian, and not supposed to be looking around and lusting after the guys I saw.  So I didn’t.

Maybe what he said is a “human” thing is really a “young man” thing–or, rather, a worldly thing, and not fit for Christians to participate in, male or female.  So now he was trying to tell me my moral views were wrong.

One more thing: Dirk said he knew about the spiritual marriage.  I just wished he hadn’t said so in the library–there were other people in that room!

And he said I really didn’t know what was going on in Phil’s head when he agreed to it.  He said Phil did it because it was so important to me.

But one must ask the question: If it was all an act, as Dirk seemed to claim, wouldn’t that make it the cruelest joke Phil could ever play on me? 

That means he spent all summer telling me we were truly married whenever I doubted it, I bought into it, and lost my virginity to him under what were false pretenses!

Persephone later told me that at the time he thought he would marry me.

Though I don’t know who got the truth, and who got the lie, because Phil himself admitted to manipulating people during this time, letting them believe things that were not true.  More on this later.

After Dirk went back behind the circulation desk, he asked me if Phil was any “good.”  I didn’t want to tell him right there in the library, but he said I should be more open about such things.  So I smiled and nodded.

Actually, there’s no “should”: If I don’t feel comfortable talking about sex in public, that’s my right.  I should have remembered this and refused to answer his question.

Geez, Dirk was so frickin’ slimy, such a know-it-all, such a sycophant, such a tool. 

He’s probably a narcissist himself, because he was able to “hypnotize” me into this trance where I bought into the crap he spewed, but later my friends snapped me out of it again.  

After this I could not stand the guy, wanted nothing to do with him.

I heard he later married a nice girl, and that this disappointed Sandy, who dated him during this school year.

I could not understand why either one wanted him that much.  He was, after all, unattractive, nerdy, obnoxious and slimy.

I’m not a nerd-hater and don’t mind plain features, but personality plays a large part in whether I like somebody.

So in his case, it all added up to a big WHY?  What did the pretty girls see in him?  If he were nice and sweet, I would see it.  But no, he was obnoxious, a know-it-all, and probably a narcissist himself.

I see my old InterVarsity friends, friend him on Facebook, and I wonder WHY would they want to?  If he hated them so much, thought they were so awful, then why did he friend them?

I even got a friend request from Dave and accepted it, but when I see Dirk’s name, I feel a big, fat NO.  Dirk has not offered to friend me, but if he does, I might just block him in response.

But back to September 14.  Late that night or the next, I spoke with Pearl about IV, as I promised Dirk.  I didn’t tell her who said these things, but she guessed all by herself.

She was too shrewd not to, since she recognized his style.  But I didn’t tell her if she was right or not, because I didn’t want to get in trouble with Dirk.

His ludicrous threats struck fear into me, when I should have laughed them off.  I also told her what he said about Phil.

Dirk’s comments about IV angered her.  She said, “He’s never come to more than one or two meetings anyway, and we always invite him to things but he never comes, so who is he to call us unfriendly or cliquish?”

Besides, we were all friends anyway, so why shouldn’t we do things together as friends outside of IV?  We tried to welcome anyone who came to IV or wanted to sit with us at meals.

And, as I’ve seen in the years since, being considered “unwelcoming” is a problem common to all sorts of groups and churches, not just IV.

As for Phil, IV as a group was not ostracizing him. Certain people in the group just plain didn’t like him.  It had nothing to do with IV or him being Catholic or any of that, things which Phil told Dirk were the reason.  It was because of his annoying personality and the awful way he treated me.

Phil had tried more subtle means before of separating me from them–such as getting upset when I wanted to sit with my friends after dinner, and badmouthing them to me, telling me they hated him because he was Catholic–but now he was using Dirk to isolate me from them far more blatantly.

Dirk probably had no idea he was being used as Phil’s proxy, because Phil was feeding him all sorts of untruths about me, our relationship, and my friends/InterVarsity.

But I had friends not in InterVarsity who also hated him:

Why would Catherine hate him for being Catholic, for example?  Cindy was not in InterVarsity, was Catholic herself, and hated him.

And I had friends in InterVarsity who were not Evangelical or Fundamentalist.  Mike, Clarissa and Astrid were in the UCC, a very liberal church; why would they hate Phil for being Catholic?

Most of the people in InterVarsity, in fact, were not in churches which saw Catholics as somehow “not Christian” or the “enemy.”

Now Charles was both Catholic and in InterVarsity, and Persephone also, a Methodist and a liberal, had joined InterVarsity.  So it was not closed off to Catholics or full of Catholic-haters.

Religion had absolutely nothing to do with Catherine, Sharon, Pearl, probably Tara, probably Mike, and others hating Phil.  Tara was not even religious, though later she became Catholic.

It had everything to do with how he treated me, so that made them a threat, people he needed to isolate me from.  Meanwhile, I didn’t much like Dirk, but Phil would be perfectly fine with me being friends with him.

Dirk told me how depressed Phil was, how desolate he felt, that he came to Dirk’s apartment recently (probably the night of the 13th) and said he had no friends.  Everyone in the apartment tried to convince him otherwise.

So I pulled Mike into my room on what was probably the 15th and asked him to be a friend to Phil.  I still loved him, you see.  How could I just stop?  I didn’t like to hear that he was desolate.

However, he sure didn’t sound depressed or desolate when he controlled the conversation with me that night, telling me we couldn’t be friends.  And as I will describe later in the chapter, Phil told me this was actually a con he played on Dirk and the others.

I don’t think I told Mike a whole lot about what had happened, so I think he knew things from my roommates and from his own observations.  He said he would be Phil’s friend, and he also said,

“If Phil doesn’t like you the way you are, if he doesn’t think you’re good enough for him, you should just say, ‘Screw you.’  We like you, and you’re good enough for us.”

His support meant much to me, though I couldn’t (yet) imagine saying “screw you” to Phil.

During the day on Thursday, September 15, still under some of Dirk’s trance, I asked Sharon if she knew of any parties around campus.  She said she didn’t know and she didn’t care: She didn’t like the parties people had around there, nothing but drinking and drugs (marijuana) and loud music.

She shocked me back into reality, and then it hit me–Why did I even want to go to one, just because Dirk told me to?  Sharon and I had similar opinions about such parties: that they were worthless, and you could meet people and have fun in other ways.

I didn’t know how I could have listened to Dirk about this.  He was like Shawn, somehow weaving a web on me so I listened to whatever he said, but then I’d get away from him and with my own friends again, and realize he was full of crap.

My future “friend” Richard could do the same thing.  Why was I so susceptible?

Then I saw Clarissa, and told her Dirk was like Shawn: He could talk me into believing whatever he said, no matter how wrong it was.  I said, “I can’t believe I fell for it again!”

Clarissa also noticed that about Shawn.  He talked her into thinking she should pledge Phi-Delts to make friends.  She didn’t know why she’d listened to him, especially after seeing what happened to me when I pledged.

As for what Dirk said–Telling me to change myself.  To “learn to compromise” when Phil was the controlling one who never would be reasonable and absolutely refused whatever I wanted, while insisting I do whatever he wanted, no matter how painful, gross or degrading.

And all the other stuff Dirk said, a ventriloquist doll for Phil.  I had to keep a tighter rein on what I let myself listen to and believe.

By the way, all of these people are still my friends.  We chat on Facebook, meet up every now and then, and I have grown closer to them through e-mail than I even was before.  Before Facebook, we often shared group e-mails.

Mike has helped me through some difficult times, such as the trauma from abusive ex-friends Richard and Tracy, and opened my mind on religious and other issues.

He even advised me to report Richard and Tracy to CPS.  Sharon also advised me to report Richard and Tracy to CPS, when I did not know whether or not the state would consider them abusive. 

Pearl disappeared for a while, but has finally come back.  I see Catherine every now and then as well.  If I had done as Phil wanted, I would have missed out on all this.

My mom said Dirk’s opinions were bullsh**.  Gee, Mom, don’t hold back!  😉

Also, the support of my friends and family, and an hour-long prayer with Pearl the night before, caused me to write in my diary that the 17th was a good day, that I was cheerful and enjoyed the day.

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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Realizing I Was Used and Manipulated by My “Best” Friend Richard: The Proof Is In The E-Mail

Realizing your best friend was manipulating and playing you the whole time, is very disturbing.  But it finally hit me this week as I kept piecing things together, put 2 and 2 together and finally got 4.  My proof is right there in the e-mail Tracy sent me back in May of this year.

My blog stalkers twisted my words into threats I never made, and then used those imaginary threats as justification to threaten me with legal action.

(See Now I’m Being Stalked, where you can read about this, my dissection of the e-mail, and the full text of their e-mail.)

I looked through all my posts but could find nothing to back up their claims that I threatened to expose them to the local community and/or church.

(Just a note in one blog, not addressed to them, that I hoped they would move away so I wouldn’t have to see them around anymore, and a note in another blog, not addressed to them, that if their church merged with mine, I would have to go to the priest for help, for my own physical, emotional and spiritual safety.)

It was a documented example of gaslighting:

Twisting your words and managing to turn things around to use them against you is a ploy of the verbal abuser. —A Checklist of Verbal Abuse | eHow.com

But I reviewed all my posts and could find nothing to justify their threats, I have tons of documentation, and I am an eye-witness of, or got directly from my blog stalkers, practically everything I wrote….

It also went against something I wrote in one blog, that I had no intention of spreading around the church the story of what they had done.

My blogs were merely about personal release of metaphorical demons, and I had no intentions of revealing their real names on here or somehow publishing them to the whole local community.

(And how on earth I was supposed to do so, I have no idea.  Take out an ad in the paper, perhaps?  As if such an ad would even be run!  Pass out fliers?  Go door-to-door?  If they mean talking to my local friends–they can’t stop a person from confiding in friends.)

Their e-mail was so ludicrous, paranoid, absurd and revealing as to be laughable.  It gave me concrete evidence of their abuse, self-centeredness and vindictiveness, so I’m holding onto it.  It even gave me concrete evidence that they just used us for our generosity, and were never true friends.

Just think: Not only did they demonstrate the same utter lack of regard for the feelings and points of view of Hubby and me that they had shown during the “Incident” and that Tracy showed for me the entire time I knew her

…Not only did they demonstrate a feeling of entitlement to call all the shots and smack us down when we got uppity and asserted our rights to decent treatment

…Not only did they say they “owe” me nothing

But a lawsuit would be an attempt to get money out of us.

Didn’t we give them quite enough money over the years?

Considering the extreme lengths we took over the years to help them out, far beyond what most people would do, and the fact that we’re not even remotely related to them,

I think we are at least owed kindness, consideration, a restraint from verbal abuse and bullying, and apologies for outbursts.

But to not even get that from them, and have them come out and say in this e-mail that they owe us nothing and did nothing wrong, is clear, documented proof–which you yourself can read–that they feel entitled to bad behavior without apology.  It clearly shows a lack of conscience and empathy.

Me always getting blamed for that bad behavior, without the blamers taking any of it onto themselves, is another telling piece of the puzzle.

Me right there overhearing as Tracy would make passive-aggressive phone calls complaining to her mother or Richard about me.

Hubby has said all along that he does not want me debasing myself to her, that Tracy has to get down on her knees and apologize to me.  And he wouldn’t mind apologies for how he got treated, either.

I, Hubby, our parents and one of my old friends all have a distinct impression that Hubby and I were played for suckers.

For me, after two months of happily hosting only Richard, there was the sudden, unexpected announcement that the rest of the family was coming to move in–and Richard already had to sleep on the couch.

There was no room for another adult and three more children, but they came here with no other place to go, no move-out plan, and ended up staying for six long weeks.

Neither my husband nor I approved this, thinking the other one must have okayed it, but never being asked, just told they were coming.  My son was forced out of his bed and into ours.

When Richard made this announcement, I got him an apartment guide and told him to find a place.  I kept asking/begging him for a move-out date, but it kept getting put off, or he’d say he couldn’t give me one.

Yet Tracy complained that I did not make her feel welcome,

complained about the food we provided (who can afford fresh produce and no canned/frozen every night for eight people on a middle-class salary and ballooning utility bills???!!!),

they gave us no money when they had promised to pay for food,

they left messes all over the house (including a massive pile of dirty laundry in the living room),

and she was very rude and aggressive to me and abusive to Richard and the kids even while living in my house,

as if she expected we would just let her do this without kicking her out–That shows a sense of entitlement.

As does the distinct feeling I got that what I did or where I went in my home was subject to her approval.

(I got this from her complaints about me taking time to myself,

the way she’d follow after me if I went to talk to Richard by myself,

the angry look she gave when Richard invited me to play cards with them,

and her complaints to Richard about my “routine” and to her mother about who does the cooking in my house and what we served for dinner!)

Then, a year and a half later, when they were on hard times again and I bit the bullet and offered to let them stay here again,

I discovered from Richard that she refused,

that she spit on our hospitality,

accused me of being a bad, unwelcoming hostess (because I had to do housework and change diapers, and desperately needed time to myself every day with all these people and noise crammed into my 1100-sq.ft. condo),

and was very upset with me for overhearing me tell my husband she was bullying me and abusing Richard.

Yeah, I can feel your ingratitude from here, a lack of appreciation for how you forced yourself on us and then complained about the accommodations,

just how much your presence put us out financially and personally,

for how you were driving me crazy and making me want you OUT.

And because of this, they tried to force me into an uphill battle to please her and get back into her good graces if I expected to be friends with Richard.

Meanwhile, she had no intentions of changing anything about herself that caused me to call her abusive and keep her at arm’s length.  More entitlement.  And more evidence that we were sponged off, used, by fake friends.

On the very night of the “Incident,” Hubby said to me, “Do you feel used?  I do.  They were not good friends.”

On the part of Hubby’s parents, all it took was one long phone conversation describing what happened, to convince them we were taken advantage of.

They said Hubby shouldn’t have let things go on as long as they did, that as soon as they began complaining about the food we provided, he should’ve (politely) shown them the door.

My mother, also, keeps noting, “And to treat you like this after all you’ve done for these people!”

An e-mail to my old friend resulted in the friend’s observation that these two were very manipulative and were never real friends to us, that she’s met people like this.

Then that e-mail from Tracy/Richard? came, confirming these suspicions for Hubby and me.

I’m not even sure what all was real and what was fake, because Richard sure played a convincing part, I thought we had a special bond and that he truly cared about me,

but then he began complaining about “pampering” me, and started coming out with things he’d held back from me, which first made me wonder what was real.

His behavior since has belied the impression he gave Hubby and me both; he had fooled us both for years.

A true friend would never behave the way he has done,

would reflect on his own behavior and return your apologies (which I gave both of them not just that very day, but a week/month later) with his own apologies,

would apologize for blowing up at a good friend.

It’s hard to admit that he may never have actually cared and was just playing a part to get our monetary and other support, especially since it is hard to be sure, though his behavior the past few years has been steadily confirming this.

But with Tracy, I’m sure, and her e-mails to me are proof.

All you have to do is read in the e-mail at the above link that they “had a good laugh” at my pain and point of view, that they “did nothing wrong” and would not apologize.

Those lines in themselves are glaring proof not just of a lack of empathy and conscience,

but that these two are a couple of con artists and spongers,

that neither of them ever really cared about Hubby or me, or they never would have written such callous lines.

And because those lines prove that they never truly cared,

that leads to the obvious conclusion that they used us for our generosity,

because we were so willing to give them a place to stay to our own inconvenience and financial strain,

to open up the wallet,

to give them food and out of our other surplus,

to give them rides,

to lend them things which we had to remind them to return.  (We never did get the crib back.)

How often were we there for them?  All the time.  How often was Richard there when I needed him?  Not so much, often ignoring my phone calls or e-mails.

After all, how much did I really know about either of them before letting them in?  I met them on an Internet forum.  It’s easy to misrepresent yourself on a forum.

There were all sorts of things which Richard never told me until right before he was to move in, things which made me start wondering if I should let him stay here.

There were things which he didn’t tell me until after he moved in, which shocked me.

There were things which came out little by little over the years; I didn’t hear about the Mafia goombah stint until 2009.

An even more telling piece of evidence of their duplicity, is the way they just let us end the friendship without a fight, the way they kept putting their pride and anger above friendship even a month later, even two years later.

Obviously getting their own way is far more important to them than anything or anybody else.

True friends would have at least tried to change our minds.  Instead of dead silence, we would’ve gotten phone calls, visits, apologies and/or requests to talk it over.  That’s what another of my friends did when one of his friends broke off the friendship.

The way they just let us go so easily, then blocked us all on Facebook and e-mail, suggests very strongly that the whole Incident–heck, that whole last few months when even Richard suddenly began acting distant, rude and mean–was a setup, a plan to push us away.

Maybe it was because I showed signs of no longer believing Richard’s wild stories.

Maybe it was because we were not going for his politics.

Or maybe we had outlived our usefulness: Most of the time we knew them, they were both either unemployed or underemployed.

While Hubby, who lost his job when the economy tanked in 2008, did keep finding good-paying contract jobs,

but then in very late 2009 felt forced to take a job that barely paid the bills, made us buy poor-quality food at discount stores, but was permanent.

His employer was a miser, while Tracy finally found steady work.  So they didn’t need as much help from us, while we didn’t have as much help to give. 

It all fits together now, the more I think about it.  To still, two years later, defend your abusive and nasty behavior as “nothing wrong,” is a sign of narcissism and sociopathy–and proves to us that we did the right thing in cutting them loose.  True friends would not be proud of having mistreated you.

Their e-mail also references Richard’s criminal conviction, with a snide remark about “speculation” and not having “all the facts,” but I got all sorts of facts straight from the newspaper and court records, which are posted online, free for the public to access.

And though they tried in this e-mail with that snide remark, there is no way to spin what he did, to make him look good.  (He choked his 9-year-old daughter to unconsciousness.)

I’ve witnessed their vindictiveness to others and to me, and maybe they think everybody is like them.  But I am not the sort of person to do what they accused me of.

Their e-mail is proof that they felt the need to terrorize me into silence, rather than trying to work things out or even defend their actions through reasoned arguments. 

It shows Richard to be just like the government officials he hates so much, who he claims will hound and intimidate him if he ever publicly comes out with their secrets.

It’s also proof that if I had gone through with that “conference” Tracy kept insisting on, she never would have allowed me to have an opinion of my own,

because that e-mail is how she responded to all the arguments I made, everything I’d wanted to say to her, in plain language and detail in probably dozens of pages of blogs:

basically, to poke fun at me for thinking things were that way, to shut me up and say I had no right to say it, or even to make my own terms about how I would be treated, after she determined how I was to be treated.

Which, by the way, is also how she and Richard both responded to Hubby’s attempts to speak up for me and try to smooth things over, during the “Incident.”

More entitlement to do whatever the heck Tracy wants, and take and take and take from us, while giving us nothing in return.  And even to go so far as to threaten us into compliance and silence about the truth to those who could help us.

Their e-mail is all the proof I need that Hubby and I are right about them.  Their true character shines all the way through it.

Though at the time it felt like they’d put a huge pile of crap in my lap, I now see it as a golden egg.  I’ve shown it to the police, posted it online and shown it to friends [on the Forum where we all used to post] as proof of what I’m dealing with.

At the same time they sent it, they also a sent a friend, whom I will name “Chia,” to spy on my Facebook account.

I’m not sure what she did there, only that I did not know this person who friended me shortly before Tracy sent the above e-mail, that they were both on her friends list, she lived here in town–

and spikes from their IP address suddenly showed up on my website right after I friended her and it showed up on her wall.

We had absolutely nothing in common other than our city and knowing Richard and Tracy.  None of my friends were on her list.

There were even a few sentences in her profile about defending friends when they’re being attacked, or some such.

(I bet she wasn’t told the full story, that I had been viciously attacked by Tracy over and over again, that my blogs were about telling my story of abuse, and that what I actually did was tell Richard and Tracy to leave me alone.)

I sent her an e-mail asking how she knew me, but she never responded.  In fact, the following day I discovered she had unfriended me.

Am I being paranoid when I say she was a flying monkey, as the blogging community calls it, otherwise known as sycophant, abuser-by-proxy, or dupe?  No.  There’s far too much evidence to support the flying monkey theory.

Then at church, you could actually see Tracy’s feeling of entitlement in the way she carried herself, and the way she tried to intimidate me by getting right up behind me in the communion line, pressing up against me, and literally breathing down my neck in loud snarls.

It was ridiculous.  What did she think she was, a scary pirate?  Better put a few “arrs” in there for good measure.

And Hubby noticed, every time they came to my church and Greek Fest for the next several weeks, their false, exaggerated piety, a show for me, though I did not watch them.

They even took communion, which, from what my husband, father and I all understand about communion, is a huge no-no when you have conflict with another at the same church, lest you taint the sacrament, and eat and drink condemnation unto yourself.

(After the first week, I realized this, and refused to take communion when they were present, but they kept taking it.)

I need no further proof that I was right about her.

Their behavior in real life and online, including what they look at on my site and how often, is very much that of people with something to hide, trying to keep me under their thumb.

I don’t even care about seeing my blog stalkers in the stats anymore.  I know it’s them because of telltale signs, such as IP addresses and other things I won’t go into publicly.  I no longer worry about them.  When I see them in my stats, I go, “Oh, there you are.  I missed you!  Where were you?”

Here’s an example of not letting the bullies intimidate you–even at the risk of your own life: Pakistani Girls Walk in Shoes of Young Activist (the one who was shot by the Taliban).

It is very disturbing to discover just how badly you’ve been manipulated and used by people you thought were friends.

I now understand why most people are so reluctant to help non-family to the extent we helped these people.

Hubby’s parents told him you put yourself out like that only for family.  We will be keeping a tighter hold on our purse strings and offers to let people stay, after being so badly taken advantage of.

It’s rough to think that Richard would be this kind of person.  It’s very different from what I thought he was.

He had seemed like the perfect friend, with interests very much matching my own eclectic interests, giving us an overabundance of things to talk about: music, Goth, geek, Orthodoxy, theology, intellectual, ghosts.

I don’t know what went wrong, if it was always a ploy, or if it changed later on….I keep looking for hope in what blog posts he reads, hope that he still cares.

But the proof of a very different reality is in how he has allowed me to be treated in such a fashion.  The proof is in that e-mail

If he had ever truly cared about me, he never would have laughed at my pain.  Only sociopaths laugh at grief and pain caused by them.  It’s only denial that keeps me hoping.

Let my story be a warning to you, especially with the economy the way it is.  The blinders my husband and I had up, have led to financial and emotional pain.

My story of narcissistic abuse is here.

 

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