Category: toxic friendship

Things to make you go hmmmm….

I get newsfeed updates from Psychopath Free on my Facebook.  Something in today’s update which made me go hmmmmm:

To draw you closer, the psychopath creates an aura of desirability—of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for you to be the preferred object of their attention, to win them away from a crowd of admirers.

They manufacture the illusion of popularity by surrounding themselves with members of the opposite sex: friends, former lovers, and your eventual replacement. Then, they create triangles that stimulate rivalry and raise their perceived value. (Adapted from “The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene).

Psychopaths, like most predators, seek power and control. They want to dominate their partners sexually, emotionally, and physically. They do this by exploiting vulnerabilities.

This is why they love-bomb you with attention and flattery in the beginning of the relationship—because no matter how strong or confident you are, being in “love” makes you vulnerable by default.

Psychopaths don’t need physical aggression to control you (although sometimes they do). Instead, relationships provide them with the perfect opportunity to consume you by manufacturing the illusion of love.

This is why it’s so damaging when bystanders say: “Well, why didn’t you just leave?” You never entered a relationship with the psychopath expecting to be abused, belittled, and criticized—first, you were tricked into falling in love, which is the strongest human bond in the world. Psychopaths know this.

…The psychopath’s ability to groom others is unmatched. They feel an intense euphoria when they turn people against each other, especially when it’s over a competition for them.

Psychopaths will manufacture situations to make you jealous and question their fidelity. In a normal relationship, people go out of their way to prove that they are trustworthy—but the psychopath does exactly the opposite.

They are constantly suggesting that they might be pursuing other options, or spending time with other people, so that you can never settle down into a feeling of peace. And they will always deny this, calling you crazy for bringing it up.

….The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore.

They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy.

In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you. You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.

Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target.–Torture by Triangulation

If you take away the focus here on marital relationships, and adapt it to friendship, the same thing applies.  Richard’s relationship with me was a platonic friendship, but the same dynamics were at work:

The first couple of months he stayed with us, his cell constantly rang with all sorts of friends.  He’d ignore them to talk with me, or answer and then say he was in the middle of a conversation, and get back to me.

He’d tell me about all the women he had to fight off–not just in his single days, but after getting married.

After this love bombing phase ended, the criticism began and I was discarded for a month.  I could do nothing right, and he didn’t want to spend time with me anymore.

Then he gave me special hugs–throwing me a bone to keep me thinking that things would be as they were at first.

But after that, despite the occasional bone-throwing (kind words etc.), he kept me off-balance.  Other friends constantly clamored for his time, and I became lower on the totem pole than they were.

Then a new friend, Chris, came along, and got all the attention that I used to get.  They’d go out and do things, talk, etc., and I would be the one sitting at home, or abandoned at the picnic table while they went walking along the beach.

The last part also reminds me of mid-2010, when I could feel things were going wrong.  But when I tried to discuss it with Richard, he shut me down, made me feel paranoid.  He also told me his political friends were messaging him on Facebook complaining about the things I posted on his FB threads.

This article also makes me wonder how much of the whole situation was Richard manipulating me to make Tracy jealous, to keep her from leaving him.  If he played each of his friends, family, spouse, the way he played me, on purpose to control us all.

I think back and remember little things he did, which individually may not mean much, but taken together make one big picture of him playing people off each other.

He did once say that being fought over gave him a big head.  Another time, he deliberately skewed what I said to make Tracy jealous:

Somebody on TV used the phrase “love on.”  It’s a new Evangelical phrase which sounds soooo wrong, but they’ll say, “we’ll love on you.”  I’m not entirely sure what it means, but I think it’s about showering people with agape love.

I commented on how weird it sounds, and said, “I don’t say ‘love on you,’ I say ‘love you.'”  Then Richard turned to Tracy and said, “She just said she loves me!”  So Tracy started hissing at me.

??!!

I think it was a joke, but I’m not entirely sure.  Or if she knew it was a joke.

I also remember him complaining to me privately about her jealousy over women friends, at various times over the years.  He complained to me about her jealousy over another friend when she first moved into my house.

But while sitting on the couch with both of us, he’d tell her the jealousy was sexy, a compliment.  Meanwhile, she drove me crazy with her jealousy toward me in my house.

He complained to me about her being mean, then in front of her would tell the kids that he married her because she’s mean.

Individually these things may not seem like much, but taken all together, they become a big picture of control and manipulation, playing people off each other to gratify his ego.

This is going into my web book on this situation.

It’s also going into my college memoirs, because this stuff also applies to what Phil did in September 1994.  It explains everything that happened during this month and the following months, changing “online” to “on a college campus,” where I saw Phil and Perspehone constantly–especially when they both sat right there with my friends and me at lunch–getting all cuddly and cute with each other.

It explains Phil’s behavior, refusing to accept any of my complaints as valid or anything but a shrew who has to cut him down.

While I was supposed to accept everything he wanted or complained about as gospel truth or my wifely duty, no matter how cutting, no matter how painful, no matter how it slandered my character.

The friend he talked to, was Dirk, whom he manipulated into thinking I was an abusive shrew, and who then became Phil’s tool of controlling me by proxy:

 

The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore.

They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy.

In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you. You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.

Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target.

After the breakup, they will openly brag about how happy they are with their new partner [Persephone, whom he dated immediately after the breakup], where most normal people would feel very embarrassed and secretive about entering a new relationship so quickly.

And even more surprising, they fully expect you to be happy for them. Otherwise you are bitter and jealous.

During this period, they make a post-dump assessment. If you grovel or beg, they are likely to find some value in your energy. They will be both disgusted and delighted by your behavior.

If you lash out and begin uncovering their lies, they will do everything in their power to drive you to suicide. Even if you come back to them later with an apology, they will permanently despise any target who once dared talk back to them. You’ve seen too much—the predator behind the mask.

This is why they constantly wave their new partner in your face, posting pictures and declaring their happiness online. Proving how happy and perfect they are.

It’s a final attempt to drive you insane with triangulation. To make you blame the new target, instead of the true abuser.

 

Not only does this article help me understand better what happened with both Richard and Phil, but it can help other people understand their own situations.

 

 

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The healing of getting it all out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is exactly why we broke off relations with them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Re-evaluating if I had PTSD or Complex-PTSD

[Originally posted 11/29/13 at 1:34pm.  Re-done and re-posted.]

I have pondered whether or not my reaction to how I was psychologically abused and raged at by Richard and Tracy, and then how I later reacted to being threatened and stalked when my abusers found my blog last year, was truly PTSD.

In 2010 and 2011, when I was reading about abuse and trying to understand what had just happened to me, I read all sorts of websites which called it either PTSD or Complex-PTSD, said this was a common reaction to dealing with a narcissist, and connected it with verbal and psychological abuse, not just physical abuse, combat, or other life-or-death situations.

But then I found other websites which said these websites are wrong and it’s not the same thing.  Well–whatever the case, it was definitely an anxiety and stress issue, and had the same symptoms as PTSD: hypervigilance (watching for them on the street or at church), constantly remembering, fear, things like that.  Whatever it’s called, it is real.

These sites explain the new changes to PTSD in the DSM-V: DSM-V Criteria for PTSD and DSM-5 Changes: PTSD, Trauma & Stress-Related Disorders.

When I review these changes, I see that I definitely fit criteria B through H.  (I don’t want to rehash it, but details are in the links at the bottom of each post, and in my blog posts on this subject, especially the early ones.)  But what about A:

The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows: (one required)

  1. Direct exposure.
  2. Witnessing, in person.
  3. Indirectly, by learning that a close relative or close friend was exposed to trauma. If the event involved actual or threatened death, it must have been violent or accidental.
  4. Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, collecting body parts; professionals repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse). This does not include indirect non-professional exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures.

So I thought back….

1. Richard threatened my husband with physical violence if he described how Richard had been mistreating me lately.  Richard later used physical intimidation and verbal violence to force my husband into compliance when my husband tried to sort things out with him the day we ended the friendship.

2. I feared physical harm could be done to me by either Richard or Tracy, because I knew that Richard once planned to assault (sounded like murder) an apartment manager for evicting him.  I also knew he used to be a thug for the Mafia.

I knew the apartment manager had no clue her life was in danger, because he said nothing to her about it.  (Tracy told him not to, or else he would have done it.)

If you doubt that I felt in danger when these people began stalking me online and at church, you need only read this post to see how I felt I was in physical danger.

3. I also feared physical harm because Richard told me that Tracy “almost killed” me one night while she lived in my house.

Hearing this from him meant that for the following year, while we were still friends, my mind kept going to this in horror, playing how it might have happened if she had not stopped herself.  I’d see kids on That 70s Show hitting each other, and start imagining it happening to me, the pain, the horror, the shock and surprise, the risk of death.

4. Tracy was at risk of death because Richard told me she’d been hitting and punching him, and he didn’t hit back, but if she ever hit his face, he would fight back.  I feared that she would hit him in the face and he would kill her because of his huge size.

5. Richard’s daughter was at risk of death when he choked her until she passed out.  Just a little bit longer, and she would have died.  I felt great attachment and love for their children.

6. On a lesser scale, but also scary, was witnessing and being told about other domestic violence and emotional abuse going on in their household.  (See here and here.)  Tracy was also taller and much larger than I was, so I was both emotionally and physically afraid of her.

Once I even told Richard I was scared of her, yet he kept insisting that I be friends with her, chat normally with her, confide in her, etc. etc.

In fact, I was already so distressed by Tracy’s treatment of me, the kids and Richard when she lived with us in 2007/2008, that after they moved out, I did not like to call Richard when I knew Tracy was not at work, because she might answer.

I actually got so stressed that I often had to psyche myself up before calling him, and then would be nervous and jittery for some time afterwards.  Once, she answered and was so nice to me that I thought in great relief, Finally!  She won’t be mean to me anymore!–only to soon learn that it was actually the babysitter.

At least once, in 2010 and possibly in 2009, I even told Richard that I preferred to let him call me, rather than me calling him, because I didn’t want to annoy her; then he said, “Go ahead!  Annoy her!”

This constant force and then being blamed for Tracy’s verbal abuse on 7/1/10, is like a rabbit being forced to befriend a crocodile, then being screamed at and accused of deserving, of bringing on, the crocodile’s retaliation for not befriending it.

It doesn’t even have to be me, but someone close to me, but I was at risk as well.  So this fits Criterion A.  So I feel confident that I had PTSD in 2010, and that it was refreshed in 2012 when they began stalking me.

I did not seek treatment in 2010 because I had neither money nor health insurance, and because by that point, I was afraid to trust anyone with my full story–even a psychologist.  The mind screw had been such that I no longer felt capable of determining who could be trusted.

The blog posts were a result of feeling unable to trust anyone, but still needing to get it all out.  Now, I don’t believe I need treatment any longer, because the blog posts, and connecting on other blogs with others who have been affected by abuse, narcissists, and various forms of trauma, have been extremely helpful.

It has also helped to discuss things with once-mutual friend Todd, who was treated the same way by the same narcs.  It has helped to no longer see Richard or Tracy anywhere around town since January, when I used to see them all the time.  (Now I only see them reading my blog.)

It has also helped tremendously to discover that Tracy is now going to college on the other side of the state.  This means their physical presence has vanished from my life, making them no longer a threat.

Some ways that are often suggested for PTSD patients to cope with this illness include learning more about the disorder as well as talking to friends, family, professionals, and PTSD survivors for support. Joining a support group may be helpful. —How Can People Cope With PTSD?

 

Likewise, a journal or blog gives you an outlet to express your fears, feelings and memories. If you don’t like to write, you could speak your journal entries into a digital voice recorder.

Online, you could record videos (youtube has a private option if you prefer it) or voice journals (soundcloud gives some free space for recordings).

Look into the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) too. In theory, EFT works similarly to EMDR therapy (see below), but you can do it yourself. EFT is also called “tapping” and there are plenty of free videos and information articles online…..

Mental symptoms of PTSD, like intrusive memories and flashbacks, can be difficult, but not impossible, to deal with on your own. –Kellie Jo Holly, Dealing with PTSD Symptoms

For a long time, I was severely affected emotionally.  It was so bad that for a long time, I wanted to die.  I have been this severely depressed in the past, and knew to just ride it through rather than attempting suicide, but I still wanted to get hit by a car.

Things have gotten much better over time, however.

Though if I had received a death threat, or been physically abused, I definitely would have needed professional help–and would have felt more trusting, because physical violence is far easier to call abuse and wrong.

Emotional, verbal and psychological abuse is harder to prove, not just to others but to yourself.

I forget where I just read about narcs using an “element of truth” to make you feel you deserved your punishment, but that is definitely part of it, so you’re afraid to tell anyone because you fear they’ll blame you, too.  I have had that happen before, so I was gun-shy about telling anybody else.

It commonly happens when people try to speak up about abuse: men being abused, girls being raped, psychological abuse, and people tell them, “You shouldn’t have done that,” or “You shouldn’t have gone there,” or “There are two sides to every story.”

It happened to me once already, when I poured out my frustrations to a forum in 2008, so I feared it would happen again.

Related content linked below, shows how PTSD and Complex-PTSD are often described on the Web to survivors of emotional abuse, and why we often believe we have that, whether it’s accurate or not.

You’ll see that not just abuse victims, but even trained psychologists, consider emotional trauma a possible cause of PTSD or Complex-PTSD.

Since I’m not a psychologist, I can’t say for sure one way or another.  All I know for sure is my own experience and how real the fear was, along with all the other PTSD-like symptoms I suffered from.

I also know that there is a debate raging over whether or not Complex-PTSD exists, and that some people have been diagnosed with it anyway.

But our reactions, fear and thought patterns are real, whether the “diagnosis” fits or not.  They should be respected and recognized as valid responses to abuse, whether they technically qualify as PTSD or not.

Overcoming CPTSD

It’s widely accepted that PTSD can result from a single, major, life-threatening event, as defined in DSM-IV.

Now there is growing awareness that PTSD can also result from an accumulation of many small, individually non-life-threatening incidents. To differentiate the cause, the term “Complex PTSD” is used.

The reason that Complex PTSD is not in DSM-IV is that the definition of PTSD in DSM-IV was derived using only people who had suffered a single major life-threatening incident such as Vietnam veterans and survivors of disasters.

Note: there has recently been a trend amongst some psychiatric professionals to label people suffering Complex PTSD as a exhibiting a personality disorder, especially Borderline Personality Disorder.

This is not the case – PTSD, Complex or otherwise, is a psychiatric injury and nothing to do with personality disorders.

If there is an overlap, then Borderline Personality Disorder should be regarded as a psychiatric injury, not a personality disorder.

If you encounter a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional who wants to label your Complex PTSD as a personality disorder, change to another, more competent professional.

It seems that Complex PTSD can potentially arise from any prolonged period of negative stress in which certain factors are present, which may include any of captivity, lack of means of escape, entrapment, repeated violation of boundaries, betrayal, rejection, bewilderment, confusion, and – crucially – lack of control, loss of control and disempowerment.

It is the overwhelming nature of the events and the inability (helplessness, lack of knowledge, lack of support etc) of the person trying to deal with those events that leads to the development of Complex PTSD.

Situations which might give rise to Complex PTSD include bullying, harassment, abuse, domestic violence, stalking, long-term caring for a disabled relative, unresolved grief, exam stress over a period of years, mounting debt, contact experience, etc.

Those working in regular traumatic situations, eg the emergency services, are also prone to developing Complex PTSD. —Stress Injury to health trauma, PTSD

 

However, PTSD does not only affect soldiers and veterans. PTSD affects anyone who has witnessed or gone through a traumatic experience. Natural disasters, terrorist incidents, any type of serious accident, and physical, sexual, and verbal abuse as a child or in adulthood can all lead to PTSD. —PTSD

 

However, a traumatic experience is required for a diagnosis. Trauma events frequently associated with the development of PTSD include the following:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse–PTSD

The National Institute of Mental Health defines Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as “an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.”

The definition has been re-defined to include exposure to prolonged exposure to stressful events that cause extreme emotional distress. It only makes sense then that those involved in a high conflict divorce are also in danger of developing the symptoms of PTSD. —Is Your High-Conflict Divorce Causing PTSD?

 

There are a few common aspects to the cause of PTSD. Primarily threats to one’s physical or psychological existence are precipitating factors.

There is frequently a violation of the person’s ideas about the world and of their human rights, putting the person in a state of extreme confusion and insecurity. This is also seen when trusted people or institutions violate, betray or disillusion the person in some unforeseen way.

Psychological trauma may accompany physical trauma or exist independently of it. Trauma can be the result of experiencing, witnessing or being threatened with sexual abuse, bullying or domestic violence.

posttraumatic stress disorder tends to be more frequent when these traumatic events are experienced in childhood. War or other mass violence and natural disasters like earthquakes or floods sometimes lead to psychological trauma.

Long-term exposure to conditions of extreme poverty or to verbal abuse can be traumatic. —PTSD

 

Psychological trauma happens after a single or a repeating event(s), which are perceived by the individual as life threatening experience. In these situations people through a wide range of confusing emotions which impacts people’s ability to successfully respond to future stressors or traumatic situations.

Typical traumatic experiences involve sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, bullying, domestic violence, or witnessing abuse as a child. Catastrophic events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or even war or other mass violent events can also cause psychological trauma.

In addition, long-term exposure to situations such as extreme poverty or milder forms of abuse, such as verbal abuse, can be traumatic (though verbal abuse can also potentially be traumatic as a single event).

Important losses can translate in psychological trauma as well. Losses can involve losing a love one, or even losing the capacity to function adequately as a result of a mental or physical deterioration due to an accident, unfortunate life event, or a physical illness.

Trauma can also be caused by other events that confront or challenge the person’s familiar ideas about the world and their human rights, putting the person in a state of extreme confusion and insecurity.

This is also seen when people or institutions, depended on for survival, violate or betray the person in some unforeseen way. —Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms

 

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