I knew Shawn had sorely used and abused me, but I had seen nothing yet. Phil’s manipulations hit a whole new level with the lies he wove, even more lies than Peter told.
I know Peter lied about things like his opinions on smoking, making me believe we were meant for each other, saying he wanted to marry me, then later casting me aside and denying it, complaining to everyone about my “marriage talk.”
I can’t tell for sure if Peter really believed it when he told me he set up a mental link when he hypnotized me, and all the special psychic abilities his ninja training gave him. He could have been fooling me, as Shawn thought, but he also could have believed it, being the sort of person who believes in such things.
But Phil deliberately fooled and manipulated me, taking advantage of my gullibility. He took my interest in psychic and psychological subjects and–practically from the beginning–began elaborate ruses which climaxed in the summer of 1994, having made me believe that he acted out his dreams.
He told me we were married before God, kept reassuring me when I doubted, but when he lost interest and no longer needed my parents’ hospitality, he quickly discarded me and said we were never truly married.
I’m no psychologist, but he was probably a narcissist. Phil is the reason I first got interested in researching abuse, in the 90s, because it took me many years to recover from all he had done.
The reason to post these stories: It’s a public service. All these stories–of Peter, of Shawn, of Phil, of Richard and Tracy–are not just about expressing myself or venting, but about warning and validating others.
I’ve long since been freed of those abusive relationships, but others could still be going through one much like it. Abuse victims need to know they’re not alone, and that this is not normal treatment, so they can escape it.
Abusers try to make you think the abuse is your fault. Shawn would coerce and try to convince me to do what he wanted, tell me there was nothing wrong with it–then after I did it, blame me for giving in, make me feel dirty and cheap, talk like I was seducing him.
Tracy abused and bullied me and tried to make me believe it was all my fault, that she had every right to do it and I had no right to complain. Richard went along with it.
Not only that, but he even called me “ridiculous” for being psychologically affected when a couple of his friends began sexually harassing me online. The harassment triggered feelings I had long since forgotten, brought them back up, alive, so that a year later I was still being triggered.
I had been sexually harassed by guys in high school, and sexually abused by Phil–and now Richard was calling me ridiculous for equating those incidents with what his friends said and did to me, for remembering those incidents because of what his friends did, and begging him to stop mentioning those guys around me so it would stop triggering me!
Abuse victims need help to get out of the gaslighting fog.
Reading stories and articles like the ones I post, and discovering the names for what I went through–emotional abuse, abuse by proxy, engineering impossible situations, sexual abuse, and the like–helped me realize it wasn’t me.
I used to say Phil was “borderline abusive,” because I thought abuse was physical–though I did write in a letter to him that he abused his authority as a husband.
But reading in women’s magazines in the mid-90s about emotional and verbal abuse, is when I realized he truly was abusive. I now understood why it spooked me one day in 1995 or 1996 to think I heard his voice at my workplace, even though he had never hit me. (I believe I actually heard the boss’ son.)
My husband’s observations on Phil’s behavior, helped me see that no, it wasn’t just me, he truly had mistreated me. My husband is the first one who told me that even though Phil did not hit or beat me, he did things that could qualify as physical or sexual abuse (forcing me into disgusting things I did not want to do).
When you think about it, I was “rescued” by Phil himself: He decided I was not submissive enough, that I was the problem, and left. But for a long time, I felt that his leaving was the ultimate form of abuse.
Though my friends told me he was controlling and possessive, my eyes were not fully opened until after I stopped grieving the relationship, met my husband, and started doing research and writing about what happened.
In those days, the Internet existed but in a much smaller form, and we did not have computers capable of using it beyond e-mail. I had access to the Net my senior year through my roommate Pearl’s computer and a modem, but it was limited to AOL.
That was 1994; I had no idea just what the Net was capable of. The explosion of websites and blogs on abuse had not yet happened. We didn’t have Google. After leaving college, I did not have a computer capable of doing much on the Net. All I had were occasional magazine articles to open my eyes.
But now, you can search the Web for information and stories about abuse. You can immediately identify what you’re going through. You can learn how to leave safely. You don’t have to wait years until you happen upon an article, book or TV program defining what happened to you.