violence

Disturbing Revelations from Richard about Tracy and our time sharing a house

On June 10, 2009, I was still smarting from the sexual harassment, and thought relations between Tracy and me had long since been resolved.

This was a rough couple of weeks:

  • On June 1, I learned that Richard (claimed to have) secretly hypnotized me while he lived with us.
  • Probably between the 1st and the 5th, the sexual harassment occurred.
  • On June 5, I learned that Richard used to be a Mafia thug.
  • On June 6, he told me they were about to get evicted again, and he was plotting to kill his apartment manager in retaliation–then called back and said his wife told him not to.

I believe it was also around June 6 when I discovered Tracy’s old restrictions on me were back up again, and I had no idea how long they’d been back up.

I didn’t even know that going out for coffee was verboten again, until Richard now told me on the phone that it was–and that, as he fervently put it, “I want to go out for coffee!”

(This did come up once during the fall or winter of 2008/2009, when I wanted to do something and Richard said he couldn’t.  I forget what it was.

(Exasperated, I sighed and said we could make sure the kids were with us so we weren’t alone–but he said, no, it was NOT about me, but because Tracy was pregnant and hormonal–and would have the same reaction to him doing the same thing with ANY woman.

(Basically, no, the restrictions were NOT back up on me: He couldn’t do this with anyone during her pregnancies or she would get jealous.  That was a relief.)

Now on June 6, however, he told me the restrictions were up.

Again?  Not only that, but the way he talked, it seemed like they never had been taken away.

???!!!

He said something about Tracy wanting to have a certain kind of conversation with me.  It’s hard to remember his words now, but basically, a kind of easy back-and-forth conversation–which is notoriously difficult for both NLDers and introverts.

I believe the next day was my church’s name-day celebration; they attended that and the reception afterwards.

I carried on such a conversation with her, because for once there was something to talk about (her hair color change)–and things naturally flowed out of that.

I later asked him how I did; he said I did well–and she told him we never had a conversation like that before.

But that was another lie, because we had such conversations back in December 2007, before she turned on me.

So–

What the heck was WITH this woman????!!!!

Now I know this is a common trait of narcissists and abusers, called gaslighting or crazy-making.  Because yeah, it’s meant to make you feel like you’re crazy.

He said that if they couldn’t find a place, they’d go back to their previous state.  I couldn’t bear the thought of my BFF Richard leaving, so I offered to let them stay with us, but done differently this time:

I told Richard I would be a better host and treat Tracy differently.

I came up with ways to make things run more smoothly, such as pooling laundry and setting up a makeshift room in the basement.

You see, I didn’t just say everything I did before was right and Tracy just had to suck it up: I felt bad about the past, and said I would do better.

On June 10, I called Richard to ask what he thought about my ideas and offer.

That’s when he shocked me with the revelation that Tracy spit on my hospitality: Even with all the offers I made to make things easier on everybody, and saying I would be a better host, Richard said Tracy refused to do this because of how “badly” I supposedly had behaved to her before.

This is when I discovered that Tracy spit on my hospitality because I hadn’t spent all my time chattering away with her instead of keeping up with the house and getting time to myself.

(See here to find out what really happened, however:

Part 1,

Part 2,

Part 3,

Part 4,

Part 5,

Part 6

At this distance, away from the FOG machine, I see more clearly–and believe that they finally gaslit me into thinking I had been the problem, when they actually had been horrible guests, taking advantage of us and manipulating us.)

Richard told me some revelations that floored me, that devastated me, that overshadowed the sting of sexual harassment which I was still dealing with.

These things went all the way back to the time they stayed with us–

things they never told us–

things that would have made a huge difference, if only we had known and had a chance to discuss them as a group–

things that explained why Tracy had turned so hostile to me.

Yet they had decided to mention none of them to me!

One of the revelations was that she eavesdropped when I vented to Jeff.  I always thought this was a private conversation.

Richard said she “heard every word.”  This wording and his tone were like she caught me lying.

She even told him I was “manipulating” Jeff.

Note that she was the one listening; she then told Richard what she heard.

Which tells me now, very clearly, that she actually lied to Richard about what I said to Jeff, just as she lied to everyone in the game forums about what Todd did a year earlier. 

Every word I told to Jeff was the truth.

I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT MANIPULATE HIM IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM.

Especially since my husband is the type to resist and resent any form of manipulation.  And he says that no, I did NOT manipulate him.  The very accusation offends him, because it’s his JOB to listen to my complaints.

As you can see if you click on this link, what I really told Jeff, then and at other times during those few weeks, was how Tracy had been abusing everyone, including me, and how it made me feel.

He then, like a man, came up with a way to help the situation.  I probably hoped he’d lay down the law with our offensive houseguests, but instead he suggested a way to make things better.

This and the following revelations prove to me now that Tracy had motive all this time for psychologically abusing me, manipulating me, constantly changing her rules, and giving me permission/taking back permission to be friends with her husband:

(see chapter 5, which starts here)

Her motive was that I saw her for the abuser that she was. 

So she had to destroy me, had to drive a wedge between me and her husband–

so I couldn’t wake him up to the truth of her abuse. 

But in June 2009, I didn’t yet recognize this, did not yet understand the mindscrew capabilities of abusers and narcissists.

Apparently they thought it was somehow wrong of me to even talk to Jeff about what was happening!  So, of course, I objected about that to Richard.  (How dare they tell me not to tell my own husband how they were bullying me!)

Richard and I had long, revealing talks on the phone that made tears of remorse run down my face, that made me shut down and be quiet and thoughtful all evening long, until finally our son was in bed and I could tell Jeff something of what had happened.

This is when I discovered how they reacted to what I told Jeff and the solution he came up with.

Yet they never mentioned it to us, never got it out into the frickin’ open,

just dealt with it passive-aggressively instead, through Tracy’s constant punishments of me and remembering what I “did.”

(Yet somehow Jeff wasn’t punished for this at all, even though it had been his idea and I just passively went along with it.  Why is that?  Just how badly did Tracy paint me when she misrepresented me to Richard, I wonder?)

Now I discovered that she knew full well that I overheard the snarks she made on the phone to her mother about me–and that this was why.

So it was on purpose!

This is when I discovered that she almost killed me one night–

which made me shake and wince, every time I saw someone on TV get beaten up, at the thought that it could have happened to me–

and over something which was nowhere near worth this reaction.

Over and over again the following year, I imagined her fists coming at me, Jeff coming into the room (whether from the basement or his bed), screaming at her and throwing her out of the house.

Me going to the hospital (or grave).  Her going to jail.

All because I, who was very sick and very sleepy, desperately needed a nap but couldn’t sleep on that crowded couch until I found a soft shoulder.  Heck, I did the same thing one night while she was right there on the couch, but she said nothing then!

Also, at some point–I’ve long forgotten when–Richard wrote to me in a chat that he’d tell Tracy I was just shy, and she’d say I wasn’t shy because of sleeping on his shoulder.

Um…

  • For one thing, I am indeed extremely shy, but why on earth would I be shy with my besties?
  • For another, I know people who do things like this with their friends.
  • And for another, HE TAUGHT ME that sleeping on shoulders is perfectly innocent and appropriate among friends.
  • And for yet another, ever since I learned in January/February 2008 that it upset her, I NEVER DID IT AGAIN.

But this was not enough for Tracy, who refused to ever let me live it down–

or stop reminding Richard of it, since Richard told me she’d bring it up periodically to him–

which you can see was meant to smear my character to him.

Now, hearing that she actually wanted to kill me over it, the depths of her violence troubled me greatly, and I told him it was probably impossible for her and me to ever be close friends.

He was surprised to hear that I was scared of her.  (Why would that surprise him?)

He said that he was telling me these things because he now felt he could be more open with me.

This shocked me, because for the last year and a half, I thought he could be open with me about anything!

I was open with him about everything, after all, and encouraged him to do the same.

During the two months he lived here by himself, we bonded; he opened up his heart about all sorts of things, even things that scared me.  Also, whenever he told me a complaint about me, I listened.

As I later told him, I may get upset about it at the time, but I need to hear it, and afterwards I would think it over and try to make changes.

But now he said he’d been keeping things from me this whole time? that he didn’t feel he could be open with me?

It felt like our entire friendship for the past year and a half had been a lie! 

That he treated me like some China doll instead of being honest with me, and I had no clue WHY, when I always tried to be the person he could talk to about anything!

Unlike narcissists, normal people are willing to acknowledge wrongdoing, and get distressed at the thought of hurting somebody.  Through Richard’s smooth words and manipulation of this natural tendency, he got me to feel like a horrible host, when in reality they had been horrible guests

I believe they used and abused my hospitality, were freeloaders taking advantage of my generosity–not just when they stayed with us, but for the following two years–then used these weasel words to make me think I was the problem, not them.

When I caught their narcissistic FLEAS and did something I shouldn’t have (the solution Jeff came up with), to them it was somehow far worse than all the insults and bad behavior they were themselves guilty of.

(In reality, the solution seemed okay to me because Jeff had already been doing this on his own–

his own idea, which he told me about AFTER he started doing it–

as I describe in earlier e-mails to my mom.) 

This is a form of gaslighting which narcissists and abusers are good at.

These revelations made me feel like a horrible person.  I did not yet see how they were manipulating and gaslighting me into thinking the problem was all mine, and that they had behaved above reproach. 

When I could finally bring myself to tell my husband what they said, he could see this better than I could, and got angry again. 

But I was so into a remorseful funk that I could see nothing but my own sins, that I was nothing but a worm who deserved to be punished for what I did, that I was lucky they were so graceful and forgiving with me so far as to still be friends with me.

When a non-personality-disordered individual (Non-PD) begins imitating or emulating some of the disordered behavior of a loved one or family member with a personality disorder this is sometimes referred to as “getting fleas”.

Sometimes, when a person has been exposed to an abusive situation for a sustained period, they will look for ways to escape – and sometimes they will experiment or resort to behaviors which are not characteristic but serve as a mechanism to demonstrate their anger.

These behaviors are often destructive and counter-productive and rarely get the abuse victim what they want. These behaviors usually result in regret, shame and apologies from the abuse victim towards their perpetrator.

Some perpetrators may seize on such incidents as justification for their own abusive behavior or as a diversion from it. Lie Down with Dogs & You’re Bound to Get Fleas

I wrote down some things I was upset about, my side of things, for a later conversation, because we weren’t able to finish before he had to hang up.

More on this here.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

Tracy drives away another friend (Todd) with narcissistic rage, manipulation, lies and a smear campaign

I was hardly the first friend of Richard’s to be driven off by Tracy, or even the third, and probably won’t be the last.  I don’t want to enumerate them all–especially since I don’t know how many there are–but there are several I’m aware of.  I take solace in this, because it shows I must not blame myself: It’s not me.

It also wasn’t just about her being jealous of other women.  She had various reasons to drive away these friends.  She also was nasty to and ran off one of Richard’s close male friends, “Todd,” in June 2008, because he did something on an online game which she did not like.

Richard later told Todd that she did this because, back when Todd first came to visit them, he nearly beat Tracy at Risk.  This made him her secret enemy.  So one day, she had her revenge:

I still have the printouts, because most of the argument was posted online, except for some private conversations which weren’t posted, and I wanted a full picture of just what th’ freaking heck was going on.  So I printed up dozens of pages, in order to read them closely without the glare of the computer screen.

I even have the original, private conversation between members of their alliance “government,” because Todd opened it to the rest of the gamers some time later.  So I can go back and read it over closely, without Richard whispering in my ear all the bad things Todd was doing, unlike the first time I read it.

Right here in the printouts is a fully documented case of DARVO, or Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.  Because I can see it so clearly here, involving a different target than I, I can see how easily Tracy can pull that DARVO trick on any target.

And what I see burns me with the injustice Todd suffered from her.  People in these games argue and war and flame each other all the time, but Todd was supposedly Tracy and Richard’s friend–and one of Richard’s best friends, not just online but off.  This got personal.

Have you ever marveled at how your abusive wife, girlfriend or ex is able to do and say the most hurtful, underhanded and contemptible things and then portray herself as the innocent victim?

Have you ever wondered how she is able to convincingly accuse others, usually her victims, of the abusive behaviors and attitudes of which she is actually guilty? Wonder no more, the answer may be DARVO. –Shrink4Men

This was a browser-based game in which you set up your own moon colony, could form alliances with other colonies, and the alliances could declare wars on each other.  Todd and Tracy were in the same alliance, and in the “government.”

One night, they disagreed on the rules of the alliance’s hierarchy.  Todd had set up the rules for the alliance, a system of government which he worked hard to write, and which was his baby.

Todd was just trying to keep to the rules as he wrote them, while helping her get what she wanted regarding who got what position in the government.  She wanted some things which he said were against the rules.  She disagreed with him over this.

So in an effort of peace and helping a friend, he posted for the alliance to vote on an amendment so she could shuffle around some “ministers” the way she wanted.

But she completely misunderstood what he was doing and suddenly went off on him, posting a profanity-laden message publicly to the alliance’s main forum, also cussing him out in chat, accusing him of acting like a spoiled child and pouting.

Instead of picking up the phone and asking him in a non-blaming fashion what he was doing, she publicly posted this rage episode in the forum, and then, as he put it, he woke up to her screaming at him in chat the next morning.

I read this part of the printouts closely, but could not figure out where the heck she got the idea that Todd was somehow trying to thwart her or do a “power grab,” as Richard claimed.

All I saw was Todd doing his darndest, even staying up late, to bend the rules to help her get what she wanted.

This looked like someone with a Cluster B personality disorder finding insult where none existed, and using it as an excuse for a narcissistic rage episode.

(In fact, this reminds me of someone I encountered on a BBS back in college, a teenager with the handle Avenger who started a huge flame war with my friend Sharon and me.  It was all because Sharon wanted to be considerate of the kids on the BBS when setting up times for an evening BBS bowling party.  The Avenger and Tracy are very much alike–both mean girls who take offense at the weirdest things–and I could not stand the Avenger.)

Jeff and I both wondered where on earth this came from after a 6-year friendship.  Shouldn’t Todd be cut some slack?  Todd was also baffled, just as I was on 7/1/10 when Tracy raged at me about an e-mail I sent to Richard.

In re-reading the printouts, I saw absolutely no evidence that Todd pouted about anything, or acted spoiled or childish.  He just had concerns about what was allowed by the rules.  He did not argue about it, just decided to help her by requesting an amendment to the rules so she could do what she wanted.

Just as it did with me, her raging, cussing, accusations and cuts on Todd’s character, shocked him, dismayed him, and put him on the defensive.  At first, he tried to be more diplomatic, but it was completely understandable when he noted, “And as for that utter tripe you stated about my character?  It’s offensive….”

She continued raging at him and telling everyone he was being awful.  It’s amazing how much stamina this woman has for rages.  I also wonder where she found the time, with four kids.

They went into a chat on IRC, which went on for many hours.  He tried and tried but could not get her to see things from his point of view.  A mediator tried to calm her down and tell her to stop taking things personally, but even he couldn’t do it.  Eventually, both sides turned ridiculous, not just Tracy.

As I read this thread over again, I really feel for Todd, because I see Tracy going on a rage episode for some imagined slight that did not actually occur, all because she thought she wasn’t getting her way–when Todd’s actions were specifically meant to give her what she wanted.

I see her picking a fight and poking and prodding Todd, calling him a baby, not listening to his point of view, accusing him of having a temper tantrum.  (This is called projection.  Abusers will accuse you of doing things they’re actually doing.)

A common tactic of a narcissist is to project their own issues on to their victim. This is an attempt to hide any actions or truths they do not want brought to light about themselves.

It is their hope that by projecting issues of their own onto you it will distract you from their malignant behavior. –Lisa E. Scott, The “Crazy-Making” Behavior of a Narcissist

I see her trying to get her own way and THAT’S IT.  (My abusive ex Phil was like that, as my friends noted.)

So–like anyone else who keeps getting poked and prodded–he got angry.  Abusers will do this to provoke you into doing something mean, so that they can point to you as the abuser.  This is called baiting.

Then Tracy took it from the alliance forum to all the other alliances, making it a gamewide argument, using her more “mature” language (just as she did to Jeff after writing foul obscenities to me) to accuse Todd of starting a coup and being childish.  Then she declared war on him.

Her explanation to the other alliances of what happened, is not what I actually saw happen in the alliance forums.  She changed some important details to make Todd look bad and her look right.  She made it sound like she was being rational and adult while he was flying off the handle.

Basically, she bald-faced lied and kept on lying blatantly about Todd to everyone in the game.  Then she booted him from the alliance.  This was a smear campaign.

She continued twisting facts while arguing with him publicly in the gamewide forums.  Then other people–who were not in their alliance and did not have access to their forum, so did not see what really happened–started backing her up and accusing Todd of going crazy.

This is all part of an abuser’s modus operandi, making the target of abuse appear to be the abuser, appear to be crazy, so no one will believe him.

And things went out of control for days, with both sides doing terrible things, including Todd calling her nasty names.  She baited him, and unfortunately, he took the bait.

This also happens in physically abusive relationships: An abusive woman will slap, smack, etc. until her husband fights back–then he ends up in jail.

Then Tracy posted that as long as she’s going to be called a b**ch, she might as well act like one.  Which is totally not the way to solve problems with a friend, and a horrible attitude.  Nice people would not behave that way.

(It also sounds very familiar, because after she found out I thought she was being possessive and controlling with Richard, over the years she did everything she could to prove me correct.)

It makes me wonder how often she twisted facts when telling Richard things I supposedly had done.  I am aware of several times that she lied.

I see firsthand how she manipulated things with Todd, flying off the handle over a slight which only existed in her mind, and then lied to others with just enough of the facts to make it believable.  I see how she refused to let Todd tell her that things were not the way she thought they were.

So I see that with me, she was able to manipulate things to make me seem like I was trying to move in on her husband, and her seem like the rational principled one, leaving me feeling for quite some time like I didn’t know what was really true.

But now I see far more clearly just how easily she manipulated Richard and me.  I see how she refused to hear that things were any different than what she thought, how she refused to listen to reason, or to let anybody else have an opinion different from hers.

So she got her own way while I felt steamrolled over–and like not even Richard cared.  There was no compromise here: It was all her way or the highway, and she had to be right, because nobody else’s feelings mattered.

I see in the printouts from the Todd situation that she did the same thing to him, making him feel like Richard didn’t care anymore, like he was stabbing Todd in the back.

It is yet more evidence that I need to take everything she ever said about me, all her opinions on my motivations and actions and what was “appropriate” or not, all her cuts on my character, all her quick insults, and throw it all in the trashbin, because this is something she does.  And refuse to let Richard back into my life until he sees just what she did.

I know of two other former friends of Richard whom she used to butt heads with as well (though I don’t know details), so this is a pattern with her.

Nowhere do I see her calming down during the arguments with Todd and saying, You know, a longtime friendship isn’t worth all this; I should step back and cool off.  And I see Richard getting pulled into it and feeling he had to stick up for Tracy, which was unfair to Todd.

I see it becoming, for Todd, not so much about a game but about a long, close, dear friendship which suddenly blew up in his face for no good reason.  I see him trying desperately to keep it from happening, but going totally the wrong way about it.

But I understand how he felt, because being publicly condemned by your friend over a game, is madness and infuriating.  All Todd wanted was for Tracy to stop accusing him of things he didn’t do, and see that he was actually trying to help her out, so he wouldn’t feel like his best friends were backstabbing him over a stupid game.

But Richard and Tracy both began doing things that made it worse:

Richard helped Tracy write a declaration of war, worded in such a way to appear that anyone who agreed with Todd, was one of her alliance’s targets–though later he said it didn’t mean that.

(So he really should understand how easy it was for my own e-mail to him to not mean what Tracy thought it meant.  Unless, of course, he lied about the meaning of that DOW.)

Richard also kept telling me that Todd was doing a “power grab,” and telling me the horrible things Todd was saying to Tracy, while here was Tracy being nasty all along to Todd.

Her lies were obvious, cold and calculated, all because she imagined a slight that did not actually exist.

I saw how other people on the board got her side of the story and assumed she was right, but they didn’t have Todd’s side.

I saw Todd accused of going crazy because of a game, by people who had no access to the logs of what really happened.  Or when they got access, they didn’t care enough to actually read it all.

It all fits the behavior of an abuser or narcissist going on a smear campaign.

Even though she was the first one to make nasty cuts on Todd’s character in public, Richard got angry at Todd for making nasty cuts (“quick insults”) on Tracy’s character, and said Todd couldn’t take it back even if he wanted to.

But what about the nasty things Tracy had said to Todd long before he got fed up?  Did they count for nothing?  Was it okay for her to say things for which Richard yelled at Todd?

The problem lay with both sides, two very volatile and young personalities who had to be right.  But Tracy fired the first shot, took it from an ordinary discussion of game politics and made it personal, made it nasty, all over a frickin’ GAME, and all over a slight which was only in her imagination.  She ruthlessly libeled him and defamed his character.

And Richard kept trying to tell me that it was all Todd’s fault, that it was a “power grab,” when I could see different, from what was posted on the game forums, and when I already knew some of Tracy’s temper.  I can see that same pattern all through my own interactions with her.  By seeing what happened with Todd, it’s obvious that I’m not crazy or imagining it.

Both sides were to blame for what happened: One person said Tracy had a “stubborn as a rock mentality,” and Todd, who has a temper of his own, really shouldn’t have cussed at Tracy and called her names.  But I saw that Todd did try to give her some of the things she wanted.

And to be fair to Todd, as I wrote above, and find in various accounts on the Net (see here, for example), abusers can get after you so much that you finally snap and start behaving badly yourself.  The abuser then uses this as proof that you’re the abuser.  This is “crazy-making,” “projection,” “gaslighting,” “baiting.”

And no, in the beginning Todd was not being nasty at all:  His own nastiness appears to have started after hours in chat of Tracy’s refusing to back down and listen to him, and continuing to accuse him of a power grab.  Then he began lashing out in frustration.

None of his concessions were enough; they went on for hours online, arguing about this, back and forth, posting much of it on the game forum.

He wasn’t “power grabbing”; he just understood the alliance constitution (which he himself constructed) differently than Tracy did.  Richard should have called Tracy on her insults of Todd, but didn’t.

So of course Todd felt ganged up on, like Richard backstabbed him and let Tracy get away with whatever she wanted.  It’s very familiar, in fact….

Todd was like me, wary of Tracy because he knew she was evil, but friends of a sort with her because she was married to Richard.

Yet, after the way she kept treating me, the things I saw her do or say to Richard, the kids, Todd, and others, and the things Richard told me she did to him and the kids–Richard and Tracy kept acting like it was somehow my fault, my problem, something I had to fix, that I couldn’t get close to her, didn’t want to confide my secrets in her, didn’t seek out her company.

[Update 11/16/11: Note also how narcissists and abusers can turn things around so that you appear to be the manipulator, such as with Judge Adams, who has made his daughter Hillary appear to be manipulative and spoiled, after she posted the smoking gun video of him beating her.]

More details of this story are here, including her sociopathic smile over something Todd supposedly did, but I don’t have room to put everything in this post.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

I get an inkling of Richard’s own abuse of his children

I am distressed and ashamed that I once looked to Richard as a source of childrearing advice, because he had three and I only had one.  At the time, maybe 2006, I only knew him online and on the phone, and thought he was a godly man–despite his occasional cussing rages against the atheists online.

When I said I was having trouble getting my toddler to stop hitting and such, without resorting to spanking, which I felt was abusive, he wrote that spanking was not child abuse.  He described his own system of three spanks all at once, which his own father did to him.

I listened and followed his advice for a few years after that, but spanking made no change in my son’s behavior.  Taking away privileges and toys was far more effective.

Also, when Richard lived with us, before Tracy moved in, he counseled me to spank harder because my son wasn’t taking it seriously, just laughing at us.  So I tried, but just didn’t have the upper body strength to spank as hard as he said I should.

Here I was, so caught up in this man’s ability to persuade people into anything, that I abandoned my conviction to never spank, convinced my husband to spank as well, and even tried to spank hard enough to hurt, out of the belief that only hurting my child would get him to behave.

It’s horrible to remember this now, to wonder how I was so deluded by someone whose parenting I had never even seen.

The foolishness of it all!  Because of this, my husband and I both did things we now regret, things that never would’ve happened had I not been persuaded by this person I barely knew, to change my mind about spanking.  My husband wouldn’t spank at all for a period of time because of what he found himself doing.

And no matter which of us spanked, it did no good.  As a toddler, my son laughed at it; as he got older, he hated the spankings but still did the naughty behavior.  Because of a recent study that proclaimed no harmful effects from one short, quick spank that barely even causes pain, I don’t condemn that.

But my husband and I have both moved away from spanking, period.  There are far too many studies confirming that spanking is harmful.

All this could have been avoided if I had not been exasperated from trying to figure out how to control a wild toddler without spanking, and if I had not listened to the childrearing advice of a person I had never even met.

Now I know some of what happens in his own house.  Now I know that he’s been convicted (as of 10/3/11) of deliberately choking one of his children.  And I regret and repent of ever listening to his advice on anything.

This is, after all, the same person who told me after Christmas 2008 that he and his wife yelling at each other was somehow “helping” his marriage, that if my husband started yelling I shouldn’t get upset, that men need to “vent.”

The same one who started talking as if angry rages against children or wives was somehow okay, and astonished me, because wasn’t this the same guy reading the works of Orthodox mystics, who wrote about the sins of rage (Philokalia and The Ladder of Divine Ascent)?

Wasn’t this the same guy who told me in 2007 that he was trying to suppress his angry side, not argue back when his wife picked fights, not be that person who beat another kid to a bloody pulp in his teens?

Now he was endorsing angry outbursts?  (My mother told me, “I would suggest not e-mailing your friend, he does not sound like a good person to talk to for advice.”)

I had written to him an e-mail about something that had happened that frightened me.  I will not go into more detail about what happened or who was involved.  But he did not respond, so I called him.  In that phone call, he told me all sorts of things that shocked and disturbed me:

That he didn’t respond because he was holding his tongue–He did not think the person involved did anything wrong, even though it was verbal abuse!  That he and his wife will yell at each other and their marriage is better for it.

That men need to vent and I should allow my husband to scream at me so he doesn’t have a stroke.  (I replied, “But I don’t appreciate being spoken to in that manner.”)

That I should allow him to scream at my child.  That he has friends who were not screamed at, and now they do not respect women; that the ones who were screamed at, respect women.

From the situation I described to him, it was very clear that I referred to SCREAMING, something that frightened me and not just a child, an out-of-control person, NOT firm tones or even yelling.

This conversation–and the way he gets you to believe whatever he says–so disturbed me that I spent the evening searching the Net for what I knew must exist: Orthodox writings countering everything he said, and saying that we must fight the passions (ie, anger).  I wrote to him,

I guess we’re going to have to declare a moratorium on topics such as this one.

It’s really disappointing.  I thought you said you were trying to control this passion, and you know we’re supposed to control it, not give into it, not just for our own salvation but for the well-being of everyone else–and it frightens me that you would think that not only is it okay to yell/scream at a spouse, you think [a certain person] should do MORE of it.

Screaming may be appropriate if your child is about to fall off a roof, out of a window or run into traffic, but not at other times.  There are things which you can just chalk up to differences of opinion, and normally I do that with you, but I just can’t with this one.  It just isn’t right.

BTW, I thought I’d better make clear that I’m not going to pull a Todd on you or anything like that.  I value my friendships, especially since it’s so hard for me to make and keep them.

But I do agree that feelings should be put out on the table (in a healthy, productive way), not kept inside, so I feel you should know where I stand on this issue.

But his reply was strangely dismissive of my concerns, and full of denial of the destructive nature of screaming at anyone (edited below only for certain parts which would reveal who was involved in the above incident).

I thought about summarizing and not posting this e-mail, especially since it makes the section quite long, but figured it was best to let him speak for himself, since I quoted my own e-mails.

Watch gaslighting in action–and an abusive parent justifying what he does.  My comments are in purple brackets:

There is a difference between constructive yelling and destructive yelling. I am controlling my passions for destructive outbursts versus trying to ring in a certain fear my girls need to understand.

The more they pay attention and stop the out of control behavior, the less they get chastised.  [justifying verbal abuse by blaming it on the kids, justifying using fear to control kids]

Why should it frighten you that I believe in discipline, even if it comes with a harsh tone when necessary? [Obviously you didn’t read what I wrote, because “frightening” referred to screaming/yelling at one’s spouse.] 

Its not like I am running around the house at the top of my voice at every second constantly riding their every action.

There is a time and place for when it is called upon for us to raise our tone to put our children into quick action so they can listen, be more attentive and not in control of the situation. We should never have to tell our children twice to do something we ask of them once and sometimes they learn that lesson with a harsh tone.

[Um—no!  This sounds like the destructive “discipline” I’ve found described on extremely conservative religious sites which promote child abuse to control children, which promote instilling fear to get a child to jump to your commands the first time, and teaching “lessons” with a “harsh tone.”  For a critique of such parenting, see here.]

And there was a ton of sarcasm about yelling at a spouse.  [Wait, what?  Where did he find sarcasm?  Does he even know what that word means?] 

In fact I do not remember that was even brought up.  [Um, what?  Gaslighting me again?]  

Tracy does put me into my place sometimes but not in a harsh tone. [Liar!  I’ve WITNESSED her screaming and yelling at you many times!  Here is my account of her rage episode against you.  My husband is a witness of it.  Right after I witnessed her yelling and screaming against you, you said she was being “nice” to you.  And you yourself complained of this many times, including March 2009!  I have it in writing!]

I also have to call her when she is going too far with her opinions on some issues, asking if she really feels they are right or justified. I think that the little of the conversation which remotely was discussed about that was more playful with my wife commenting on her as a burden on my broken back, but you may not have heard that on your end of the phone. It was more amusing than anything.

[NO!  That is NOT how the conversation went!  You are gaslighting me!  You told me you yell at each other!]

As for suggesting Jeff to yell more, that is not what I said. I suggested letting him be able to loosen up before he explodes. This translates into allowing him to speak his mind more and maybe tighten up his reins on your son when your son needs it, mostly so you do not have to deal with…waiting til the last second of counting with him so he will get up and do what you requested him to do more than once.

[He’s 4 years old and still learning what happens when you get done counting.  Don’t diss the counting method: It works!  You just need to have patience, and don’t use fear to control the child.]

….Jeff seems to get frustrated at times and if he holds it in he is going to explode someday, but these are only my observations. When I have witnessed these similar situations it starts with high blood pressure and eventually turns into a heart attack.

[No, you said I should let him scream at my son, yell at me…. He already would vent his frustrations, and didn’t just “hold it in,” so I don’t know where Richard got that from.  I probably should’ve started recording our conversations so Richard couldn’t do this to me!  My ex Shawn pulled the same crap with me, telling me something then saying he never said it.]

Quelling the passions… Yes I have been quelling my anger issues. I am nowhere near as angry as I have been and I am still undergoing that burden.

Telling my kids to cut it out or they will get in trouble when they are supposed to be cleaning up and not playing is not anger, its making them pay attention to the words I am saying and to adhere to them.

So its said loud. This is not something I need to quell; its called raising my children to respect and obey my wishes. If I never said anything or tried to be calm and peaceful with all three of my girls, two out of my three would be walking all over me daily and I would be living in a worse disaster area than I do already.

[I NEVER objected to a parent using firm tones to get a child to listen.  I objected to SCREAMING at a child.  He said repeatedly that SCREAMING at a child is not only okay but necessary.  A firm tone is proper discipline.  SCREAMING is ABUSE!  He told me over the phone that the situation that frightened me, which was a  screaming fit, was perfectly fine!]

And please take no offense to any of this. It should not disappoint you nor should I be disappointed. We grew up in different houses and we witnessed certain things work and certain things which probably put us in fear on how we see how to raise a child, or three, soon four… pray for me! :O

Also, his claims in this e-mail of temperance need to be taken with a grain of salt because he was later convicted of choking one of his children in September 2010.

People who are in control of themselves, who never abuse, do not suddenly snap one day and choke a 9-year-old child.

I didn’t see it so much, but Jeff witnessed him yelling and screaming at the kids while gaming with him, and Jeff–who also has trouble controlling his temper at times–found it excessive.  Jeff says that yelling like this does not work to get kids to listen to you.

Also, as I describe later, on June 10, 2010, he posted on Facebook for suggestions on how to get the kids to clean without “beating them into bloody submission” which only gets them flinching when he raises a hand and gets them working far less than they already were.

At the time, I thought he was just joking with hyperbole.  Now, I’m not so sure.  Jeff said when I mentioned this post to him, “So: he’s finally learning…?  Yelling at them just makes things worse, and should only be a last resort.”

Also, as I described earlier, Richard had admitted to putting the kids in the closet once (and planning to do it again), and said his dad abused him, he deserved it, and it made him a better person.

To quote my e-mails to my mother, the “male friend” being Richard, and note that by “screaming” I mean screeching and raging, not “raising your voice”:

A male friend of mine says…that men need to vent, that if Jeff doesn’t scream at [my son] on occasion then [my son] will grow up into someone who doesn’t respect his mother and gets put in jail, etc.

But of course, this friend of mine is a guy who’s had a fierce temper of his own, and his wife seems very capable of standing up to anything and has a fierce temper herself, so maybe he doesn’t realize what it’s like for more sensitive females to deal with this.  I don’t think this kind of behavior is right…

I said on the phone today that I seem to have misunderstood what my guy friend told me.  Well, I partially misunderstood.

I could’ve sworn he was telling me that it’s okay for wives and husbands to yell at each other as a means of “getting things out,” that he and his wife do things that way and are much happier for it.

I could’ve sworn he was saying that I should let Jeff yell at me more often to “vent” or he’ll have a stroke.

But he insists that’s not what he said, that he didn’t say Jeff should yell at me more often, that he was just talking about disciplining children.

I’m not sure what to make of this, because what he claims to have said, and what I remember him saying, are entirely different things.

I distinctly remember him saying that he and his wife would yell at each other, that it got things out in the open, and their marriage was better for it.  If that’s not what he said, then why was I so appalled as he said it?

When he said I should let Jeff yell, we were NOT talking about children at the time, but marriage, so that’s why I said, “I don’t appreciate being spoken to in that manner” (i.e., my husband yelling at me).  If we were talking about children, I would not have said that!

He also greatly downplayed what he said about Jeff needing to yell, whoever it was at.

Here is where he and I part ways, however.  He has a very authoritarian view of disciplining children, and seems to think we’re too light on [my son].

I want to minimize the yelling; he thinks we should do more of it.  He’s always telling me things like, “[Your son] rules the roost.”

But no, we’re teaching [our son] that WE rule the roost, not him, and when he disobeys, there are consequences.  When a spank is threatened, he holds his butt because he knows what’s coming.

But I don’t agree with my friend that good discipline means we have to yell all the time and force things.

I agreed with him that screaming may be appropriate if safety is at stake: a child is on a roof, about to fall through a window, running into traffic, reaching for an outlet.

But I don’t agree that it’s right to scream at a child for being disobedient.  I sure don’t remember being screamed at as a child.  Yelled at on occasion, yes, but not screamed at.

Here in this e-mail, you see an example of Richard criticizing us for not being harsh enough with our child.  You see the all-or-nothing attitude, that if you’re not screaming at your kids, then you’re letting them run wild.

There’s a huge middle ground in there, where many parents are able to raise kind, respectful children–without screaming, slapping or even spanking.  Every year, my son’s teachers tell us how well-behaved he is, how nice to the other children, even befriending ones who others push aside.

Also, even as long ago as the 50s, people were moving past the idea that kids should fear you and do things the first time you ask–OR ELSE:

In 2013, I saw an episode of Donna Reed in which the dad told Jeff Stone he should do what he’s told the first time he’s told.  And Jeff said, The kids I know who do that, are afraid of their parents; do you really want that?

In another episode, the dad tells Jeff that when he was a kid, his dad would have taken a razor strap to him; he obviously does not want to raise Jeff that way.

In Dobie Gillis, we soon learn that the dad was raised with more anger and violence, but Dobie’s mother refused to allow Dobie to be raised like that.

So if, as long ago as the 50s, people looked on razor straps, violence and screaming as barbaric, why should we of the 21st century even consider such things “good parenting”?  Especially now that studies show such parenting does more harm than good?

Richard criticized Jeff for not wanting to make our son fear him!  Back in January 2008, he said with concern (as if Jeff were making a terrible mistake–ie, tsk tsk), maybe he was afraid of his dad and didn’t want our son to feel the same.  What, do you really think fear is any way to raise a child?

And despite Richard’s claims that his kids did what he wanted the first time he said so, how can that be when they kept misbehaving and he kept yelling?  If that were true, then after a short time, they should have learned to obey without being screamed at. 

And why did he post on Facebook in 2010 asking for ways to get the kids to clean when asked, if putting fear into children works so well?

Why is it so much easier to get my own son to clean, without making him fear us?  Why do his teachers–year after year after year–tell us how well-behaved and nice he is?

If screaming and putting fear into children is so effective, then why did you choke your daughter for not listening to you, Richard?

Fear is no way to raise a child–unless you don’t mind that your child will not love or respect you, but only fear and hate you.  You want that child to behave because she loves you and wants to please you and do what’s right, not because she fears you, because the moment you’re gone, she’ll do it again.

It’s the same principle for religion: If you want truly righteous believers, they need to obey out of love for God, not because they fear Hell.  As soon as the threat is gone, the “believers,” or children, will rebel.  Just look at all the kids who sneak out of the house to party, or who go off to college and start engaging in all sorts of self-destructive behavior.

My parents weren’t perfect, and did yell, did use a paddle when I was little (because it was the 70s and this was still considered okay).  But they did not scream, did not belittle, did not slap, got furious with my brother for hitting my head one day. 

And I did not rebel as a teenager, not for fear of punishment, but because it was wrong.  The “worst” I did was to carry a Walkman in my backpack, to use when walking to/from school.  (You weren’t supposed to have a Walkman at school.)

In college, the “worst” I did was sexual behavior with a couple of guys I loved–no drinking, no weed, no promiscuity.  Not for fear of punishment, but because I wanted to do the right thing and please God.

An old school friend has borderline personality disorder, but she is not narcissistic, and does not use it as an excuse to bully children.  On the contrary, she is trained in child care, and a fierce advocate against any form of intimidation or abuse of children.  She knows how to get a child to listen to you and obey because the child wants to.  She has already helped raise a few children to adulthood–and from what I hear, they have turned out well.

I remember being a kid: Kids start to tune you out if you lose control and scream at them all the time.  They don’t respect screamers and hitters: They respect people who are firm but stay in control, who show them love rather than violence in discipline, and they want to listen to them.

Richard could really benefit from a few episodes of Supernanny.  Also, here is a much more gracious view of getting kids to obey you the first time.  Another perspective:

Wanting to avoid punishment, we learned to swallow our emotions and just obey, plastering on a smile or at the very least making sure to avoid frowning. But that didn’t mean we didn’t still feel or rage inside.

Even though my parents believed they had broken each of our wills, I think what they had really done is made us so frightened of the consequences of disobeying that we negotiated our circumstances as best we could using what coping mechanisms we had available.

A child raised on the Pearl’s method may be instantly obedient and appear outwardly cheerful, but that tells nothing about what is actually going on inside the child.

…This is actually one thing I’ve seen Christian bloggers who oppose the Pearls’ child training teachings point to as a warning sign. Michael is talking primarily about breaking children and turning them into mindless obedient robots, not about teaching children to love Jesus and love their neighbors. –Libby Anne, Definitional Discussions and Pavlov’s Dog

Here’s a good description of why screaming does not work:

Tone– This is probably one the most important and most overlooked skill. Keeping the right tone with your child is paramount to disciplining successfully. Too light of a tone just tells your kids that you are a pushover. That what you say is not what you mean, or that your authority is weak at best.

Too strong of a tone is either disciplining by fear, which will not work in the long run, or it’s yelling to relieve your own tension, which does not help to scale back the tension. Especially as your children hit the teenage years.

Want a rebellious teenager? Using fear, and only fear, as your primary discipline technique will grant that request very quickly. Yelling in reaction to your own anger or frustration will only result in a daily screaming match.

Your tone should be authoritative. It should tell them that you are the parent, and they will do as you say. It should not be light and airy, or filled with pleas to behave.

Nor should it be screaming. Both of these tones says that you have no control in the situation. A controlled and serious voice resonates with children more than yelling or pleas. –Kerry Chafin, Why Your Discipline May Not be Working

There are several ways we can “make” children behave. One is by using force. Another is by using fear. Still another is by punishment. Unfortunately, these three methods imply that the caregiver is superior and should overpower the child.

Rather than leading to a child with inner control, they make the child angry, resentful, fearful and dependent upon force.

There is another way to discipline children. Though it may not appear to get the immediate results we might like, it is safer, more natural and humanistic.

It is based on the assumption that children are by nature good, fair, and honest and ultimately capable of responding to that which is good, fair and honest within us.

This method is to treat the child with respect. It is treating the child as if he is as important a human being as you are. It is treating him with the same respect with which you wish for him to treat others, you, and himself. –Katharine C. Kersey, How to Discipline Your Child

Fear and discipline only confuse the young child therefore; first look for the real world consequences.  When adults want to teach a child something, explain to them the reasoning in words that they can comprehend.

I have discussed a few ways adults can teach children how to learn and follow rules and do not want ignore the hundreds of other techniques.   However the purpose of this article is to discuss fear and discipline.

Scaring and hitting a child are two different behaviors, but they are both abusive and unnatural.  Remember frightened children will become the frightened adults who have great difficulty trusting others because they are in fear and waiting for the attack.

Do not use fear and discipline as a tool to get them to do what you want them to do because at this point you are being the bully, and severely damaging the ones we love.

This is the relationship between fear and discipline. Children will learn the lessons required to move into adulthood as long as we are there to offer our guidance. –Dr. Cheryl MacDonald, Does health psychology relate to fear and discipline?

Emotional abuse is a form of assault that is deliberate and manipulative and used as a method of control. The abuser uses intimidation, fear, guilt, and/or threats to frighten and belittle the victim.

…Parents or caregivers who emotionally abuse their children also use similar controlling tactics to gain power over the child.

Children who experience emotional abuse may feel that they are responsible for the behavior of their parents and that if only they were more polite, better students, or better children, then their parents would be more loving.

Abuse is often defined as any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, intimidation, guilt, coercion, or manipulation. —Emotional-abuse

The goal of effective discipline is to foster acceptable and appropriate behaviour in the child and to raise emotionally mature adults. A disciplined person is able to postpone pleasure, is considerate of the needs of others, is assertive without being aggressive or hostile, and can tolerate discomfort when necessary.

The foundation of effective discipline is respect. The child should be able to respect the parent’s authority and also the rights of others. Inconsistency in applying discipline will not help a child respect his or her parents.

Harsh discipline such as humiliation (verbal abuse, shouting, name-calling) will also make it hard for the child to respect and trust the parent. –Canadian Pediatric Society, Effective discipline for children

Also see:
Can slapping a toddler in the head be anything but unacceptable!?

Here, smacking on the head is called assault:
Husband slapped my daughter

Well I was there and I saw what you did, 
I saw it with my own two eyes 
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been 
It’s all been a pack of lies 
–Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight”

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children

5. My frustrations mount

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

More details of Tracy’s abuse of her children

I’ve described the squalor they lived in.  This is no way for kids to live.

Shortly before April 15, 2009, she and Richard spent the afternoon in the state capitol, getting the TEA Party started.  Richard didn’t tell me what they were doing right away, just hinted about possibly doing something “illegal” or getting arrested.  But nobody was arrested.

Anyway, they left the kids with me.  When they returned and picked them up, just minutes later, Tracy screamed at her children at the top of her lungs!

I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill yelling, but Exorcist-like screaming! 

It was so loud and hysterical that I heard her from my door as they pulled out of the parking lot!

And this was just minutes after picking up the children!  After an afternoon of being separated from them!  How on earth could anyone get so flustered so fast by even the naughtiest of children?

This was shortly after I received the e-mail in the above section, so I heard for myself what Richard complained about.  I felt bad for the kids, and wondered what the neighbors must think.

Early in 2010, I saw Tracy–right in front of me–pop her tiny three-year-old in the back of the head so hard the girl’s tongue flew out.  I go into more detail about this below.

In June 2010, I sat on the couch watching the two oldest girls dancing in the living room.  They did absolutely nothing wrong, and looked sweet and happy.

But all of a sudden, Tracy went from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds, flew over, and began screaming and whacking fury at them.  

I had no idea what on earth the kids could have done wrong.

They didn’t say a word or fight back, just seemed to go limp.  Even their faces were blank.

Yet Tracy grew madder and madder, screamed louder and louder, yanked their arms around, and whacked spanks every which way! 

Like a human tornado, striking without reason or cause or humane feeling.

It wasn’t even at me, yet it left me nervous and scared of her for the rest of the evening!  I go into more detail about this and Tracy’s various other abuses that evening, in chapter 7.

I felt gaslit because if Richard told me she was abusing the kids or him a certain way, or that she was screaming at them all the time, he’d acknowledge it as abuse.

But if I saw with my own eyes what she was doing to him and the kids, he’d tell me everything was fine and she was being nice to him and slapping your kid on the back of the head is fine and screaming keeps them from being spoiled etc. etc.

Another way I felt gaslit: Tracy did these things right in front of me, as if daring me to call Child Protective Services.  It was truly bizarre.

Since Jeff wasn’t around or wasn’t looking, I began to wonder if it was on purpose, so I wouldn’t have a witness to back me up.

But when we visited, Jeff did hate walking into yelling.  He says our son was afraid of her, and that always ticked him off.

I heard her picking fights, and screaming at Richard (in my house) in louder and louder tones, while not listening to a word he said, while he tried very hard not to argue back.  

I saw her smack him on the arm in fury and give him intimidating looks.  

I heard her pick at her kids for petty things and make them feel like idiots, sometimes screaming at and belittling them for little things.

Several times, I heard her belittling and humiliating the eldest child.  One time I remember was in 2010, when she started ridiculing the poor girl one evening.  I remember feeling indignant, that it was blatant verbal abuse.  She called the girl stupid!

Around that same time, when the third child was 3 or maybe 4, Jeff and I saw her sucking her thumb.  We thought it was cute and smiled; Jeff said, “Did you get that from [our son]?”

Then Tracy started screaming her head off at the poor toddler, saying, “Are you a baby?” and not to do that.  It was so ferocious and belittling that the girl began to cry.  It infuriated me.

When the middle child was 3 and potty training while living in my house, Tracy threatened to spank her if she peed her pants!  I believe the child had only just started potty training in the past couple of months, yet Tracy accused her of doing it on purpose!

It’s only natural for young children to have accidents.  Even my son’s 4K teacher requested every child bring a spare pair of underpants to school, because it is so common.

I recall Tracy chewing out the oldest for sulking for “not getting her way”; are you so sure the sulking wasn’t actually anger over being treated like crap by her mother?

Proper discipline requires the parent to act like an adult and be in control of herself, not act like a child!  If the girl sulks, ignore her!  When the girls are good, praise them!  They do what brings them attention, whether good or bad attention.

Once, in 2010, Tracy started tickling the middle child–not ordinarily an abusive act–but she kept going and going despite the child’s screams to stop.

Everyone kept laughing–except me: I heard fear and pain in the girl’s voice. 

When Tracy stopped, the poor child ran into the bathroom to cry.  

But somehow, I was the only one in the house who saw this as wrong, while everybody else laughed.

This horrified me, so the next morning as I walked my son to school, I reminded him of what happened, and told him to never laugh at someone like that.

How on earth can you like a woman who constantly verbally abuses little children right in front of you?  How on earth can you get beyond simple pleasantries and become besties?

Was I supposed to become a fake, two-faced friend?  Would that please her?

(My college friend Catherine has her own version of a Tracy, whom she tolerates because she’s friends with her “Tracy’s” husband.  But her friend apologizes to Catherine for his wife’s behavior!  Wouldn’t that have been nice from Richard, instead of constantly looking the other way when she pulled crap, and treating me like the problem was all mine!)

She chewed out her husband in front of me time and again for little things–I don’t want to see your domestic disputes!

It was so bad that Richard often joked, “I love her, but wanna kill her!”  I knew he didn’t mean it literally, but it wasn’t funny: It was a symptom of how bad things were.  She also joked that she’d never divorce him: She’d kill him instead (making him not want to drink the coffee she just made for him).

Richard said he needed to be around to protect the children from Tracy’s rages, to keep the abuse under control.  This article echoes him:

Some men stay because they believe they’re protecting their children from abuse or acting as an ‘abuse buffer.’

According to state law, he is obligated to stop the abuse or be subject to prosecution himself, to remove the children from his abusing spouse and notify authorities.

I keep hoping he will do just that, because there’s only so much I myself can do, especially since they didn’t listen to me and I’m no longer around them.  I have no way of finding out what CPS might have done about it[This section was written before July 2011, when I discovered Richard was also dangerous to his children.]

Richard also said that the middle child was very sensitive, and would try to comfort the others.

This article sounds like Tracy, from various sources: what I witnessed, what Richard told me, what others told me.  She did these things with me, with him, with others.

One form of “isolating behavior” listed here is to argue in front of others to make them uncomfortable around the two of you–which she did with Richard right in front of me, many times.

Because I saw Tracy–a large and tall woman–smack a tiny three-year-old girl–small for her age–on the back of her head…because I was shocked and appalled to find people on the Internet say that it’s not abuse to do that…

When researching this behavior, I specifically looked for information on the effects of smacking small children on the back of the head, or anywhere else on the head for that matter, such as the face.

(You have to be careful in research like this because “smack” means “spank” in many countries, and I’m not concerned about light, quick spanks to the well-padded butt.)

I’m less concerned about the effects on older children or teenagers (though I don’t condone that, either) because their heads are more developed and teenagers are practically fully-grown.

But smacking small children is especially risky because of their lack of physical development, small size, and the risk of sending them into a table, TV or other piece of furniture.  Toddlers have been killed this way (I found articles about this, but forgot to link them, and couldn’t find them again).

Here is an article about a toddler whose mother “slapped the child, causing him to fall and hit his head on the coffee table,” which then caused the child to suffer severe head injuries and permanent brain damage.

Here is an article about a man who slapped his toddler against a high chair repeatedly, killing her with traumatic brain injury.  Also see my blog posts on the subject:

Hitting kids upside the head is ABUSE (my 6th most popular post)
Child Abuse
Examples of child abuse
…Because slapping kids on the head is ABUSE!  STOP THE VIOLENCE!
Slapping kids upside the head causes traumatic brain injury (my 2nd most popular post)

Tracy and Richard also thought it wrong to even notice and praise a child for doing a chore, as if it would somehow spoil her (then wondered why they couldn’t get their kids to do chores).

I don’t want to describe what the children did on the Web, but a couple of incidents sounded like classic “acting out” behavior, which abused children often do.

Children act out what they see; their demonstration of violent behavior can be a manifestation of their exposure to domestic violence (The Silent Victims of Domestic Violence). –Jessie Brown, April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Acting-out behavior can also include bullying, drugs, risky sexual behavior, or shoplifting.

When children observe their HAP parent acting in an anti-social and aggressive manner over an extended period of time they often pick up on a number of these behaviours and over time, consider them to be socially acceptable.

Children are a product of their environment and do learn what they live. Children living under the influence of a hostile-aggressive parent may become themselves, selfish, self centred and have growing anger management difficulties as years pass on.

Children who are being physically abused or yelled at constantly by a HAP parent will begin to deal with their own problems in the same manner, often lashing verbally and physically at siblings or schoolmates.

Many of these negative behaviours are often observable at the child’s school. HAP behaviours picked up by a child from the HAP parent will, in many cases, seriously affect a child’s development and interfere with their ability to lead a normal and balanced life.

Some professionals may misdiagnose the child as having a conduct disorder and prescribe medication but, in reality, these professionals fail to realize that the child’s own parent is instilling these types of negative and anti-social behaviours into the child. —Hostile Aggressive Parenting

Tracy thought that if her children were happy, loved her, etc., she wasn’t abusing them.  But this isn’t a proper gauge:

In many cases, it is not unusual for a child to exhibit signs of affection and love towards a HAP parent at some times which can be very confusing to the occasional or untrained observer who may see the child showing affection to the HAP parent at some particular time.

Psychologists have recognized for years that even children living under the care of abusive caregivers, often will have deep seated loyalties to those who may be physically and emotionally abusing them.

Most children often long for the love and approval from their caregivers so it is not uncommon for a child who is being abused by an HAP parent to be seen showing affection at some times to their HAP parents. —Hostile Aggressive Parenting

Richard wasn’t blameless, however.  He had repented of past abuses, but didn’t acknowledge that he still condoned abusive behaviors.

Like for example, he refused to believe that screaming at children all the time was abusive.

He even told me you should let a husband lose his temper once in a while, that he and Tracy had been blurting things out and yelling at each other and it was somehow “good” for their marriage.  (More on this later.)

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children

5. My frustrations mount

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

E-mails and phone call describe how Tracy abuses her husband and children

I have already described some of Tracy’s abuse in chapters one, two and three.

On December 17, 2007, I wrote in an e-mail to my mother,

I already heard that Tracy can be hard on the kids at times, and I’ve seen some of it.  It seems her mom was emotionally abusive, her dad was abusive in other ways, and when she and the kids stayed with them the past few months, she started acting like her mom.

Richard and I really hope that being away from there, and around Jeff, Richard and me, will influence her away from that.  Poor Richard tries to get her to stop doing something, then gets an earful.

But I’m trying to look past that and remember that he loves her, he married her, so I can’t just judge her and reject her.

[Proving that I also made a good-faith effort to befriend her.]

On March 22, 2009, I received an e-mail.  I won’t quote the e-mail, out of privacy and safety concerns.  It spoke of domestic disputes and child abuse, specifically using the terms “assaulting” the children with “verbal abuse.”

The next day I received a phone call, and took notes.  I saved the e-mail and the notes in case Richard needed me as a witness one day.

It is a smoking gun which proves I was not imagining abuse, or imagining his complaints of it.

It proves that Tracy went in cycles, which matches not only the cycle of abuse (“honeymoon” periods followed by abuse), but also borderline personality disorder.

Some of the things he described, I also find described by victims of abuse from BPD wives.

It was, finally, written proof that she had indeed been verbally and physically abusing him and the children, and its effects on him.

It is my proof that I am not lying, not “crazy.”  I hold fast to this e-mail as my anchor, so their gaslighting does not get into my head and make me doubt myself.

This is important because Tracy threatened me a couple of years ago, tried to make me think it was all in my addled head, and Richard has even been helping her in her intimidation and cyberstalking campaign against me.

Over the years, I witnessed things, and Richard told me things verbally and by e-mail.  This chapter is a summary of the abuse I know about.  If any of it is incorrect, blame the source for deceiving me: I have made a good-faith effort to make it accurate.

Considering how Richard had told me I should spank my son harder, and I simply could not spank hard enough to please him because it hurt my hand and I did not have enough strength–Just how hard was Tracy spanking the kids that even he said it was too hard?

She hit him.  I saw her smack his arm in anger on a few occasions, but when I wasn’t around, she punched him.  It sounded like she’d been physically battering him.  

He didn’t hit back because she’s a woman.

But he said if she ever hit his face, he’d tell her, “You’re no longer a woman,” and fight back.  He said you never hit a man in the face, and that in our state, she’d be the one going to jail because she started the fight and male judges would recognize that she started the fight by hitting him in the face.

This was frightening.  But I was still forced to be best buds with her, or else.

I saw her give him intimidating looks, treat him so that I caught him looking at her warily as if she would beat him (verbally at least) if he did something “out of line,” and verbally abuse both loved ones and perceived enemies.

I heard her scream obscenities at the ex over the phone, and once, while talking about him on the Forum, she called him a n***er–that horrid word most decent people can’t even say.

She comes from a very dysfunctional and extremely abusive family.

I caught Richard lying to me–in church–because of her.

She’s jealous, possessive, controlling; she was angry with me for thinking so, but she did everything in her power to prove me correct.

She nagged and nitpicked and ordered him around.

As for Richard saying that no judge in our state would convict him if she hit him in the face–What, had he been asking about this? considering whether or not to hit her back?  With his large size, he could kill her!

A quick online check of our state laws reveals that self-defense only allows him to use what force he needs to defend himself, not go beyond that.

One night while they lived in our house, I saw her hit him with an open hand–not in play the way women often do, the way that men like and laugh about, but an angry hit.

I often wonder if I’ll hear about them on the 6:00 news one of these days, if they’ll end up like another couple which recently ended with the girlfriend Josie raped, and James Cruckson dead of self-inflicted wounds, after shooting a policeman dead and severely wounding another.

Like her mother before her, Tracy broke her children’s spirits, though–unlike her mother–she didn’t do it on purpose.  

She would banter her children into a screaming frenzy, then scream and cuss at them, and spank them too hard. 

Then when Richard told her to STOP, she turned her ire on him: She used the excuse that he had abused them before, so she could do it, and (even though he no longer did the things she referred to) went on about how oh, he’s so perfect.

This practice is called echoing: Basically, the abuser finds a way to accuse the victim of doing what the abuser is doing, then uses it as license to continue the abuse:

Another very destructive habit which I have identified in my relationship I refer to as “echoing”. This habit takes two distinct forms. The object is to feel whatever the partner feels whenever an “attack” is detected by the abuser….

The second form is to accuse the partner of whatever the partner accuses them of.

Scenario 2:

Partner: Please don’t raise your voice at me.

Abuser (Screaming): You’re the one that’s yelling.

or

Partner: Please stop cutting me off and let me finish my sentence.

Abuser (angrily): You’re the one who cuts me off all of the time.

When the conversation is discussed later, the abuser quickly takes the opportunity to first accuse the partner of the infraction and seize the high ground.

The abuser will then take every opportunity in the future to accuse the partner of doing what they do saying “See, you do it too.” This is generally viewed by the abuser as a way out.

Anytime they accuse you of an action similar to one of their destructive actions, that is viewed by them as a license to do it at will and a “win”. –Abused Judge, An Analysis of the Abuser’s Language

Also: “Are you an abused man?  Three Questions.”  Quote: “My wife thinks I’m being abusive and controlling when I tell her her behavior is hurtful.”

Sounds familiar: Tracy told Richard he was being controlling when he told her she was behaving very badly to the children one day (he used the word b**chy when talking about it to me, but I don’t think he used it to her).

This article sounds like Tracy:

Have you ever wondered why your abusive wife, girlfriend or ex blames others, makes excuses or rages when you question her behavior?

Does she often act like an out of control child? Does arguing with her seem like a losing battle? Does she have a comeback for everything you say that pushes your buttons? When she’s angry, does she say “not fair” and that nothing’s her fault?

Does it feel like she sets traps for you during arguments? Have you ever wished you could put her in a timeout chair just like you would a toddler?

Men who are in relationships with abusive women often say that they feel like they’re dealing with a child in an adult’s body in regards to their wife, girlfriend or ex.

Like many others in the same situation, Richard thought that loving her would change things.  But from what I saw, this did not work.  In 2010, I witnessed her cycling yet again.  His love could never be enough to change someone that damaged: She must want to change herself.

The drama started to wear him down.  This may explain why he betrayed me later: to get peace, because he was so beaten down by her that he had been betraying his own friends, first Todd and then me.

On April 2, 2009, I wrote to Jeff:

Yesterday, Carolyn Hax ran a column with a letter from a guy who’s been verbally abused constantly by his wife for the past three years…It has stirred quite the debate!…

I’ve been especially interested in light of what Richard told me [in the above e-mail/phone conversation], and encouraged by those who say it can be changed, and sometimes the marriage can even be salvaged in the process.

I have hopes for them, especially since they have 3 children and a 4th on the way. Though he told me things that make me seriously hope they don’t end up on the 6:00 news some night…..

He said it’s a power play. There should be no power plays in a marriage. That’s how you end up like Todd vs. Tracy on [the online game] last year…..

Jeff wrote back,

All behavior can be changed if the person in question wishes it, and no behavior can be changed externally.

If change is to take place, Tracy must be confronted about the matter, convinced of the destructive nature involved, so that she will buy in to the process of change.

If Richard submits to the abuse and bends to whatever Tracy wants, then the behavior is positively re-inforced. If he simply doesn’t fight back but rather becomes passive-aggressive, then the behavior is mentally justified.

Behavioral change comes when the subject (A) becomes aware of the need for change, (B) actively chooses to change, and (C) develops a means of supporting and encouraging change.

Just wanting to change isn’t enough: there must be something  providing internal and/or external leverage to empower that change.

In order for others to participate at all, changed behavior needs to be observed and promptly rewarded.  Negative re-inforcement, even if the individual is attempting change, does not benefit morale and therefore is not encouraging.

All behaviors are fundamentally based in positive re-inforcement. If Tracy is abusive, it is because it somehow makes her feel good.

That desire to feel good is fundamental, but must be given a different path to progress on.

See? I think about this kind of stuff – *a lot!*

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children

5. My frustrations mount

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing