Confronting Your Bully/Abuser
I have confronted abusers in my life before. I confronted Peter via letters; I confronted Shawn in person and via letters; I confronted Phil in person and via letters (this is in my College Memoirs). Because this was done, I was able to move on eventually, knowing that it had been done.
While revising the public version of my College Memoirs, I read the letters I had sent to Phil, and discovered that they already confronted him with how he abused me, even though at the time I only termed it “borderline abuse.” I was greatly relieved to discover this, even though at the time he got angry at what I wrote.
When going back over the pages I had written as Richard and Tracy were reading them–many of which I hadn’t even looked at for quite some time, because there were so many–I felt horrified at times to realize what had been left in. I do feel shame and sorrow for those things, and thought I had deleted them, wish I had deleted them, kept them in the private accounts where such venting belongs.
But as a whole, confronting the abuser was something I had wanted to do for a long time. And I have gotten tired of being the only one apologizing for hurt feelings or going too far all the time, with no such consideration from Tracy; it’s her turn now.
There were many things in there–most of the things–which I was glad they had read, because they would see how badly they had mistreated me–or so I had hoped.
I explained many things which I had not had the chance to explain before, showed how I had been manipulated by Richard, showed how their bullying and abuse had affected me, showed this guy who wanted to be a priest how his actions had spiritually devastated me.
I thought it impossible for my words to not move anyone. I thought for sure this would move them.
But alas, it did not. Instead, they followed the abuser’s modus operandi, and called me crazy, even continued to insist they did nothing wrong and would not apologize, even though I specifically told them not to contact me with more justification or minimizing of what they did.
As Jeff has put it, Tracy needs to get down on her knees and apologize to me. Otherwise, she has no business having any part of my life, and needs to stay the *@<# away from me.
I see now that they lack so much in empathy that they are focusing not on how their actions have caused me psychological and spiritual trauma and damage–
how for months I wanted to die because of Tracy’s verbal abuse and the loss and betrayal of my supposed best friend–
and how sorely they misjudged and abused me–
and on how this whole thing has left me still in the throes of doubt of the very existence of God, how hard it has been to stay in the Orthodox faith when it holds so many reminders of Richard–
but they are focusing on those things I should have left out, and on their reputation–
which has suffered nothing from a few minor blogs that most, or probably all, people they know will never even see.
In fact, their determination to destroy me could do far worse damage to their reputation, as they bring attention to the blogs and wreak their vengeance on me, when I had no intentions whatsoever of speaking about this openly in my own community.
I recall how even in the midst of Tracy’s narcissistic rages against me, I still tried to come up with things to apologize for, to calm her down, throw her a bone, soothe her hurt feelings so she would stop hurting mine and we could have a true, adult dialogue.
But I never have seen the same courtesy from her, after all the times she’s snarked at me, hurt me, yelled at me, cussed at me, judged and sentenced me without knowing all the details.
Those details she needed to know, they were in my blogs and accounts, and they vindicated me, yet she still insists she did nothing wrong. The lack of empathy is astounding, and something we have always had to deal with with these people.
What’s even worse is discovering they also desire to transgress legal boundaries by forcing their contact on me when I had said to leave me alone. Now they’ve crossed from abuse into creepiness, have become stalkers.
This season of The Big Bang Theory had an episode about this very subject (“Bully for Leonard”): Leonard’s old school bully wants a favor from him, but seems clueless about how he once treated Leonard. So Leonard makes a list of all the things this bully did, and gives it to him.
At first, we think that repentance has occurred, as the bully comes in a drunken, tearful stupor to Leonard, apologizing for everything. But then he crashes on the couch, wakes up sober the next morning, forgets his sorrow, and becomes the bully all over again, calling Leonard a “pansy” for being upset about the bullying. (Summary here.)
Confronting your bully/abuser is sort of a mixed bag. In googling this on occasion, I find stories of people who confronted their abusers and good actually came of it. I have also had former bullies, apologize to me and become friends.
Several years ago, when reviewing my College Memoirs for online publication, I found things to apologize to Phil for, and sent him a message on an alumni website; he turned around and apologized to me!
Peter and I e-mail on occasion and he’s on my Facebook friends list; Shawn and I exchanged e-mails about 8 or 9 years ago about what was going on in our lives.
There are abusers who have decided to stop abusing, and have truly repented and changed their behavior.
But unfortunately, it seems far more common for confronted abusers to give the abused yet another abusive episode to process and get through. In fact, while many people are counseled to confront their abusers as a way to finally heal, many are counseled not to because it can be dangerous. An article on this subject is here. Some quotes:
Directly confronting your abuser and/or those who knew of the abuse but did not try to help you is not for every survivor, but it can be a dramatic, cleansing tool. If you feel you need to confront your abuser, do it, before the person dies and you never have the chance again; don’t let that desire haunt you forever.
(My reasons to confront, as quoted from the article:)
Reasons to confront:
1) Validation of memories
2) Make those you confront feel the impact of what was done to you
Keep in mind:
1) Abusers don’t like to feel out of control and don’t like to be confronted.
2) Your abuser will probably not admit to the abuse or even think what s/he did was abuse.
3) It’s a good idea to bring a friend for support or have someone to meet up with afterwards.
4) It’s okay to change your mind about the confrontation; don’t feel obligated to follow through if you change your mind or have doubts about the outcome.
Remember that the purpose is to speak up for yourself, say what you want to say and ask for what you want, whether you will receive it or not, and know that you took charge of the situation. This will completely flip the situation around from what it was during the abuse; confronting is very powerful.
Here is a forum thread started by someone who confronted her abuser, but he denied the abuse and bullied her more. Still, she was congratulated for having confronted him. [Update 6/2/17: The link no longer goes to the thread directly, and I don’t know when it was posted, so combing through the old threads is too time-consuming. But you can search for threads on the same topic.]
Here is a blog post from “faithallen” about confronting the abuser. Some quotes:
When you work through the healing process from child abuse, you will reach a place in which you must decide whether or not to confront your abuser. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Some people find it to be very empowering to confront their abuser. Others wind up regretting this decision….
However, you might want to confront your abuser. Many people find confronting their abuser to be incredibly empowering. They are able to look their abuser in the eye and say all of the things that went unsaid throughout childhood. In some cases, they might even receive a sincere apology. (I would not hold my breath for this outcome.)…
Many abusers are unwilling or unable to take responsibility for their actions. Your abuser might tell you that it was all your fault and not show a bit of remorse….
Also, if you choose to confront your abuser, be prepared for the fallout.
In my case, confrontation, while desired, was not sought by me, because I feared it would just bring down more wrath. It was, apparently, sought by my abusers, who read my blogs about them, without me ever telling them or any of their friends that these blogs existed or who they were about. So I was forced into a confrontation.
It was exhilarating to finally stand up to them. And, of course, there has been ugly fallout. But if they didn’t want to read these things about themselves, if they did not want me to stand up to them and tell them off, then they should not have poked around in my blogs.
I am currently reading Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis, and hope to write a post about it after I finish. He wrote it in prison to his former friend/lover Bosie, whose manipulations led him to file the libel lawsuit, which eventually led to Wilde himself being imprisoned. It was his means of confronting this person who not only helped ruin his life, but had also been subject to constant rages.
This was a problem with the men of Bosie’s family, showing that it was probably borderline or some other personality disorder, being passed on (whether genetically or behaviorally) from one generation to another. The original of this massive work was sent to Bosie, but rather than read and reflect, he reportedly read three pages, and tossed the rest into the river.
Here is an article about abusers minimizing the abuse when you call them on it. Some quotes:
Not all abusers are dysfunctional. Many of them are pillars of society. Abusers come in all shapes and sizes: successful professionals, or peripatetic con-artists, affluent or poor, young or old, well-educated or dropouts. There is no profile of the “typical abuser”.
Yet, abusive behavior often indicates serious underlying psychopathologies, such as personality disorders (Narcissistic, Borderline, Paranoid, or Antisocial are the most common among abusers). Abuse is often associated with alcoholism, drug-use, and other reckless, addictive, or compulsive behaviors.
Denying the Abuse:
Abusers deny the abuse or rationalize it. They tend to shift blame or avoid the topic altogether.
Types of Denial
1.Total outright denial
“It never happened, or it was not abuse, you are just imagining it, or you want to hurt my (the abuser’s) feelings”
2. Alloplastic defense
“It was your fault, you, or your behavior, or the circumstances, provoked me into such behavior”
3. Altruistic defense
“I did it for you, in your best interests”
4. Transformative defense
“What I did to you was not abuse – it was common and accepted behavior (at the time, or in the context of the prevailing culture or in accordance with social norms), it was not meant as abuse”
Abusers are concerned with their reputation and image in the community – neighbors, colleagues, co-workers, bosses, friends, extended family.
Forms of denial in public
5. Family honor stricture
“We don’t do dirty laundry publicly, the family’s honor and repute must be preserved, what will the neighbors say?”
6. Family functioning stricture
“If you snitch and inform the authorities, they will take me (the abusive parent) away and the whole family will disintegrate”
Here is a post from Narcissists Suck about forgiveness. And a quote that reminds me of Richard in general, and in the latest dealing with Tracy:
There is no human alive who doesn’t fashion some code of conduct that convinces themselves they are “righteous”…i.e. that they are “moral”. Some fashion their moral code according to an objective source, such as the Bible. Others just make one up as they go along and construct their code according to their subjective and perverted feelings and ideas.
My dad lives by the moral code of the mobster. No matter how angry he may get at my mother, no matter how loudly he may condemn some behavior of hers to her face, no matter the long emotional estrangements from her….let some “outsider” (everyone is an outsider to those two including their children) come along and dare to contradict or attempt to hold his wife to accountability in whatever form and his mobster code of conduct is immediately visible.
No one else is ever allowed to “dis” his wife. You make her unhappy and HE is unhappy. You will be yanked on as hard as possible by him in order to bring you back into line and make his wifey happy again.
I see this dynamic as yet another iteration of his dedication to his principle of selfishness. If the wife is unhappy….she makes him miserable, too, because she cries, she rages, she whines, she mopes, she sinks into depression, she tortures him with her misery. He sees the only “moral” thing to do is to make her happy again whatever the human cost may be to the “outsider”.
No one else matters. There is no claim for redress, accountability, or justice that he will admit to be valid. The mobster code of “la familia” applies only to the two of them. The rest of us can rot in hell. –Anna Valerious, Dad, mom’s evil henchman
This post is also relevant, since Narcissists Suck is a very popular blog which also exposes the deeds of narcissists in the author’s life, but she’s kept it up for 6 years:
Before I close this post I will respond to a question posed in the comments to me from “Poe”.
But I have one question. I have read all your posts and there is one thing I can’t understand. Your sister is not stupid. Doesn’t she know that you have this blog? That her emails will be publicly exposed and scrutinized?
She isn’t stupid, but she also isn’t terribly smart. The thought has not even crossed her mind that I have a blog let alone a blog where I have talked about her at length. That thought would require her to think bigger than herself. She isn’t very good at that as you might have noticed.
Since the earliest days of my blogging I have kept an eye out for her through Sitemeter and Statcounter. I know beyond all shadow of doubt that she has not found my blog.
Keep in mind, too, that she is proud of her letters. She thinks she is right and has expressed herself in a way that no one can see her game or object to her words.
She does not possess the ability to know how she is perceived by me. She can’t get out of herself enough to get it. She sorta seems to get it in her latest email, but it is too little too late.
Anyway, it hasn’t occurred to her and I doubt it ever will. Writing under a pseudonym makes the chances of her finding what I’ve written vanishingly small.
As I’ve said before, I don’t care if she finds what I’ve said here about her. I don’t care if she finds herself publicly exposed and scrutinized. She deserves whatever she gets if she should find me here. In any case, she still has her anonymity. She isn’t “publicly exposed” in the truest sense.
In the comments of another post:
When I saw you in my stats I wondered for just a moment if my sister had found my blog. I keep an eye out for her. The day she finds my descriptions of her here is going to be a very interesting day indeed.
Since she stopped blogging a few years ago but still has the blog up, I do wonder if her sister has ever found it.
A blog post about the Psycho Ex-Wife blog being shut down, by another blogger writing about her experiences. And here’s a blog by someone else who also wrote about her experiences, only to be found by her family. [Update 5/27/14: One Angry Daughter’s blog no longer exists.] As One Angry Daughter wrote in “Bear With Me,”
In case you haven’t already heard the exciting news, my FOO [Family of Origin] has discovered my blog. I really don’t care if they are reading or not.
What I do have a problem with is NM [narcissistic mother] leaving comments spreading FOG [fear, obligation, guilt]. Out of the 300 + comments I have gotten on this blog, her comment was easy to spot. The comment has been deleted.
She has yelled over me and put me in my “place” my whole life. Well, she doesn’t get a voice here.
I have been able to block them from accessing (A how-to guide is in the works). I know eventually they might find a way around it (as I type, they are continuing to try to reload my page, click on various links to this page, and view cached versions of this site — I’m sure they think they are very clever).
I kinda feel like a kid whose mother just read her diary… but I am not ashamed. These pages are my point of view, my honest account, my journey. The only reason I blog anonymously is to protect their identity, not mine.
So FOO – if you have sneaked your way back in and want to read, fine by me. Be warned, you may not like everything I have to say. If it bothers you, by all means, do not come back again. Please keep your opinion to yourself. I will find you and I will block you again.
This video [link no longer works] on narcissistic rage sounds very familiar. It’s the “how dare you disagree with me” which showed up very clearly on 7/1/10 when Jeff confronted Richard, and a month ago when Richard and Tracy found my blog. [Update 3/23/15: I don’t know what video this originally linked to, but you can easily find such videos on Youtube.]
Another post on this subject: Reblog: What Happens When You Send Your N the Letter