Fighting the Darkness: Seeing the abuser again

Some people may not understand why it’s so hard for me to see my bully and her accomplice (Tracy and Richard) at church or at Greekfest.  They may think it’s just something I have to get over.

Well, maybe those people have never been bullied or abused.

Every time I see them, several emotions swirl around in my head: fear, dread, missing Richard despite everything, anger.

Anyone who’s been friends with, married to, or related to a narcissist or abuser can relate to this, can understand feeling regret at losing them despite all the hurt they’ve caused, can understand still hoping that the abuser will repent for what they did, change, and be the friend/spouse/parent the abused has always wanted.

It’s a knife to my heart to see Richard at church, start hoping that he will come over and apologize for being Tracy’s accomplice and for his own sins against my husband and me–then he leaves without saying anything, as if he still believes I’m the one with the problem, as if he still thinks verbal violence and physical threats are perfectly valid ways of dealing with problems.

It also feels like intimidation.  Tracy acts all happy and goes up to the Eucharist as if she has no need to go to that Christian sister who has something against her and try to resolve it before putting her gift on the altar.

Throughout this whole thing, she acted as if she had the moral high ground and I was just the little stubborn jerk who wouldn’t do what she wanted.

It burns to see her act this way, to know that she thinks she did nothing wrong and I’m the one with the problem.  It’s like she’s rubbing it in my face; they ignore me completely, and when Tracy is there the children are kept close.

Only when Richard was there by himself did the children say anything to me.  In fact, while in the parking lot one time, my husband overheard the eldest child calling out his name, then Tracy scolding her for something.

It reminds me of my ex Phil, who is described in previous posts.  Even though he hated my friends (just as Tracy hated my church), after the breakup, Phil kept coming over and sitting at my lunch or dinner table, supposedly to be with his new girlfriend.  They’d get all lovey-dovey, and it made me sick.

It felt distinctly like he was trying to control me even after the breakup, by rubbing his new girlfriend in my face and not even letting me eat my meals in peace and surrounded by the love of my friends.  And after all the crap he put me through, he would say hi to me in the halls and act surprised that I said nothing, wanted nothing to do with him.

It also reminds me of a guy, back in 1999, who ticked off half the SCA shire by refusing to make the changes we requested on the shire’s new website, then accusing us of religious persecution for wanting to keep religion off our non-religious site.

Since Hubby was the chairman (seneschal) of the group at the time, he was in the middle of this and got most of the guy’s ire.  We made somebody else our web minister, and this guy soon vanished from our shire, though I see from a local web forum that he has made lots of enemies around the area since he left us.

He also would threaten to send people viruses, and is most likely the guy who e-mailbombed Hubby and me with 100 messages saying “karma,” since this was one of his favorite words.

According to online court records, he’s also been jailed more than once.  So he’s probably a sociopath.

Yet after all this, in 1999, just a few months after the website brouhaha, he came to our shire’s annual camping event, brandishing a sharp sword without a sheath.  He made no trouble, but was obviously silently daring us to confront him, daring Hubby (who was tending admission) to tell him to put away the sword.

So excuse me for not seeing Richard or Tracy’s presence at my church or Greekfest as being anything less than control and intimidation, when they know I’m going to be there.  You see I’ve dealt with narcissists, abusers and sociopaths in the past, and have seen them operate.

At the very least, I wonder if Richard and Tracy are trying to force a confrontation or are just extremely insensitive.  I don’t go to their church or any of their church’s functions, to keep boundaries between us, because I don’t want to see or be around them and am aware that my presence at their church would be seen as unusual and confrontational.

I’m not some drama queen to cause a scene, but I don’t expect such consideration from Tracy.

I’m amazed that Richard showed up at my church after being convicted, as if trusting that I won’t tell anyone there what he did.  I haven’t and don’t plan to, but it’s just as baffling as Tracy’s abusing Richard and the kids in front of me and Richard telling me he put them in the closet once.

In fact, I still can’t stand to see Phil’s friend from back then, his accomplice in trying to get me away from my friends, as described in earlier posts. I still cringe if I see his name in the newspaper or on Facebook, and especially when I see him friending my friends.

And that was 17 years ago! So why would I want to see Richard, even though he was mostly Tracy’s accomplice, rather than bullying me directly?

There’s fear, because I now know what Richard is capable of, that he nearly killed his own daughter.  I know that Tracy punches Richard, and that she almost killed me once, only holding herself back because she still needed my roof over her head.  So why wouldn’t I feel fear and dread to see them?

I know what Tracy posted on her Facebook wall the day of the breakup, I know the bad things Richard told me about his former friend Todd even though he wasn’t the one who started the argument with Tracy, and one mutual friend inexplicably vanished from my Facebook and life one day; why should I not wonder if they want to spread rumors at my church?

I tried apologizing for my own part in things, but it got nothing but more blaming and scolding and no mirrored apologies, no recanting of their own bad behavior.

And honestly, all I actually did was write a badly-worded e-mail, into which Tracy read subtext which was not there (things which I did not even hint at, so I don’t know where she got them from)–and be a shy, quiet person who preferred not to get close to my bully, but was still pleasant and kind to her as Richard’s wife.

I did absolutely nothing to intentionally offend or hurt her, even though for more than two years she kept pushing and pushing and bullying me so hard that I had to fight to not express my anger at her.

When I did try to say I was being mistreated, she bullied harder, treated me like a horrible person for not thinking she was wonderful.  All my complaints were further “reasons” for her to abuse and to put restrictions on me.  I could not stand her controlling ways.

She misinterpreted everything I did in the worst possible way.  There were things I did which among my circles of friends, are quite normal and acceptable, things which Richard actually got me doing and which to him were quite normal and acceptable, things which to my husband were quite normal and acceptable.

But to Tracy they were egregious sins which must be recounted again and again, even long after I had stopped doing them out of deference to her.

(Though, of course, I was told that their other friends were allowed to do those very things.)

And it was never entirely clear what was and was not acceptable to her, because the rules were constantly changing, one thing okay one day but not the next, or okay if Richard did it but not if I did, or okay if she did it but not if I did.

And there were rules which were absolutely ridiculous.

And frankly, I’m sick and tired of her ever-changing and draconian rules, and refuse to go back to a “friendship” which requires any of them.  If I can’t be myself, then screw it.  If I can’t be friends with Richard without being forced to be friends with her, then I’ll take neither.

It is a huge relief to be among family, friends and church members who do not judge me for being quiet, who do not tell their husbands that I hate her and can’t be trusted with him because I blend into the furniture, who may make a little joke once in a while about my quietness but nothing nasty.

To be among friends who freely do the things that Tracy once wanted to kill me for.

To not get snarked at or criticized for every little thing I do or say, not just by Tracy but by Richard.

To be myself, without being accused again and again of disrespecting her or snubbing her.

To relax and not worry about two people–one my best friend–ganging up on me because of my selective mutism/NVLD/Asperger’s/extreme introversion/whatever it is.  I can’t help the way my brain works, and I don’t want to; I just want to be accepted as I am, same as anybody else.

To have these two people just waltz back into my church and then back out again as if they’ve done nothing wrong and I deserve nothing but to be ignored–disrupts my life, disrupts the gradual loosening of tension that I’ve been feeling by being around decent people again.  I go to coffee hour to relax with my church family and work on understanding Greek, but if I see Richard and/or Tracy I feel tense, nervous, shaky.

Tracy made it very clear in August 2010 that I could contact them again–when I stopped being upset about her rage episode.  She implied that I deserved all her nastiness, yelling, screaming, cussing, ridiculing, blaming, humiliating, demeaning, etc. etc. of me, and that I had to accept that as well before I could contact her.

But how am I to stop being upset if she never says she’s sorry for it? if she just keeps justifying it?  If she thinks I ever will accept what she did, then she’s going to be waiting until Doomsday to ever hear from me again, because she never did manage to break my spirit, no matter how hard she tried.

Even if she got down on her knees and begged me to forgive her, I might forgive her, but I wouldn’t take her back again.  She treated Richard’s friend Todd just as badly, if not worse, and he wants nothing to do with her, either.

Just like every other abuser, she called this acceptance and not feeling hurt by her bullying and verbal abuse “growing up.”  She has an amazingly skewed concept of what it means to be a grown up.

What she calls “growing up” is actually bowing down to your abuser, letting them break your spirit, giving your power over to them, and then opening yourself up to be abused over and over again.

She has no concept of what it really means to be “grown up.”  Or what it means to be a Christian.  I believe she has some kind of Cluster B personality disorder to think this way, just as every abuser must have to be able to abuse the ones they claim to love.

Sam Vaknin has equated Lundy Bancroft’s profile of the typical abuser with a malignant narcissist.  For me, Tracy is the verbal equivalent of Judge Adams, who belted and verbally abused his daughter in a now-infamous video.

And just like Judge Adams, who even after public outcry still blamed his daughter and defended how he treated her, Tracy refuses to see that this is abuse, that her deeds are evil, but instead continues to blame the victim and treat all her victims like they need to “grow up” when they finally run away from her.

Criminals and abusers are alike in this strange, deluded self-justification of their actions, this strange blaming of the victim.

The DSM IV-TR, the bible of mental health disorders, does not regard abusive behaviours as one of the criteria of NPD. It does, however, mention the precursors of abuse: exploitativeness, an exaggerated sense of entitlement and, above all, a lack of empathy.

So, I think it is safe to say that abuse does characterise the behaviour of narcissists. —Sam Vaknin

If you’re feeling as if you’re “walking on eggshells” around someone all the time, you’re probably dealing with a (narcissistic) abuser.

As the title of this post posits – I am not sure the term “narcissistic abuser” isn’t redundant as most abusers seem to have a very pronounced  narcissistic streak in their personalities – whether they are diagnosed narcissists, or not. —The Narcissistic Abuser: Is That Redundant?

Narcissist Is A Title Synonymous With The Label Of Abuser. —Description of interview with Sam Vaknin

Abusers and narcissists are almost synonymous. —Video on Dealing with Narcissists and Abusers

Healthy narcissism is at the core of the Self and malignant, pathological narcissism manifests itself in literally all known abusive, dangerous, and reckless behaviors: family violence, murder, genocide, addictions, corporate malfeasance, sexual abuse and paraphilias, incest, and more….

Strictly defined, a “narcissist” is someone who has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Less than 1% of the general population are diagnosed narcissists, so your chances to come across one are 1:100.

But, as Theodore Millon observed correctly, there are many more people with narcissistic traits, a narcissistic style, or a narcissistic personality who would not be diagnosed with NPD, but are still as deleterious and detrimental to their human environment as the “full-fledged” variety. —interview with Sam Vaknin

I know that I must learn to not take anything Tracy said personally, but reject it as the rantings of a Cluster B personality disordered person, because along with all the other things I’ve noted in these blogs, there are other things as well:

I witnessed something bizarre one day about a year ago.  This was either October 5 or December 7, 2010, according to the school calendar, several months after we broke off the friendship.  My son had a half-day, so I set off walking down the sidewalk past my house to fetch him around 11am, when who should I see driving past me on the street?

I had a clear view: They were facing me, so on my side of the street.  There are no trees in that area between the sidewalk and the street.  And no other cars were nearby.

I saw Richard driving that familiar minivan, and Tracy in the passenger seat.

Well, sort of in the seat: She was hanging half her body out the window

head, shoulders, upper part of the torso, possibly down to about her waist, turned with her shoulders pointing one above and one below, arms flailing, not holding on (which struck me as extremely odd and dangerous behavior)

while Richard gave her an upset or angry or scared look.

Obviously he was upset with her for hanging out the window.

I thought Tracy, at least, must have seen me in those few seconds, since she was hanging out the window and facing me, with me just a few feet away from her.

I looked directly at them, rather than ignoring them as I usually do, because these few seconds were so unexpected.  If she tried to say anything to me, I didn’t hear over my Discman.  Did she try to yell at me?

What the heck was this about?  There was no explanation for why on earth she’d hang half out the window.  It was yet more bizarre behavior from this woman, and evidence that her behaviors toward me were from a Cluster B personality disorder, because I’m told Cluster Bs do things like this.

Other than on TV, I’ve never seen anybody else do anything like this in a moving vehicle.  The speed limit around there is 25mph, and in a van, the ground is farther down.

I’ve also been informed by mutual friend Todd that Richard said borderline and other personality disorders are indeed in Tracy’s immediate family.  So Todd believes she does indeed have at least one of these.

Todd also says that one day she’ll go off on you and get Richard to help and it’s all over, that Richard has lost other friends because of her.  I have this information in writing.  So this isn’t just my imagination, or just me.

Yet somehow she continues to stay out of jail, even though I know she has punched Richard on many occasions, and even though I saw her abuse her children and told Social Services about it.

Which, by the way, is another reason I feel nervous seeing these two people at my church, people who I’ve already witnessed being vindictive to other people in the past.

I took a huge risk reporting them, and wouldn’t have done it unless I felt justified, unless I felt those children were in grave danger both mentally and physically.  I feared that one day I would hear about Richard and Tracy on the 6:00 news.

Even if Richard assaulted me for it as he wanted to assault that lady two years ago, I would not regret reporting them.  His criminal conviction proves that my instincts were correct, especially since his daughter reported him long before.

And the audacity Tracy had to abuse the kids right in front of me, though of course she saved the worst of it for behind closed doors!  As if daring me to report her, and meanwhile she claimed the moral high ground when dealing with me.

More than one person had encouraged me in the previous year to report them to Social Services, but I was afraid to do it because Tracy and Richard are both physically scary.  I feared Tracy’s temper or that she would report me in retaliation; I feared that Richard would go goomba on me like he wanted to do to that lady in 2009 who got him so upset.

But then, in February 2011, I saw The Boondock Saints for the second time.  In the beginning we hear a sermon about evil triumphing because good men do nothing about it.

So I began writing an account of what I had witnessed, e-mailed it to an old friend who is in the social work field, and she told me: My concerns are very valid, Richard and Tracy both sound very abusive, she grew up in a similar environment and her family is still dealing with the consequences, so PLEASE report them–do it for Richard’s sake.

So I sent the letter to Social Services, and later confirmed with them that they received it.

I expected only that–if my report was even taken seriously–it would lead to the Department of Social Services (DSS) providing them with various services and helps.  First I checked the state’s public access website to see if either he or Tracy had been charged with domestic violence in the past few years, but nothing was there (though if I’d checked a few days later, it would’ve all been there).

Then, as I stated in the last paragraph, I checked with my friend who’s involved in social work in this state, to see if the things I witnessed, qualified as child abuse under state law.  She urged me to please report them, to help the children and to help Richard.

I filed the report with DSS, not with the police department, because I wanted them to get services, not to be charged with a crime.  I didn’t expect the children to even be removed from the home.

I expected they would work out a long-term plan, in accordance with DSS procedures, with anger management counseling, parenting courses, and various other services that would help them to stop the abuse and become a healthy, happy family.

I figured that if they knew what was in the report, they would know who made it.  But I saw a documentary on Youtube in which one couple said they’d been reported for abusing their children, and a year later, they were very grateful for that report, because they were now much better parents and spouses.

I hoped that this would be the same thing with Richard and Tracy, that in time they would forgive me because they knew I did the right thing, that they would realize it led to their family becoming healthy and happy, and that they would reach out to Jeff and me in friendship, forgiveness and repentance.

Also, when I made the report, it was Tracy who I saw as the principal abuser, with Richard being primarily the victim and the one who was trying desperately to keep her from harming the children as well.

No, this was NOT about vengeance, no matter how angry I was with them.  If it were about vengeance, I would have called CPS immediately after Tracy’s verbal abuse of me on 7/1/10, very easily and gladly, not waited many months after a great deal of reflection and soul-searching over whether it was the right thing to do.

In fact, a pastor friend who had done social work, told me during the weekend following 7/1/10 that I needed to report them for the sake of the children, but I said, “I don’t want to be vindictive.”  He had told me, Don’t let friendship stand in the way of doing what’s right for those children!

I was bullied by one of my brothers for all of my childhood, and he still is a bully–even my mom says so, says he bullies my dad.  When he was about 18 or 19 and I was about 11 or 12, he was a Marine MP, and while home on leave, was getting ready to go on a date.

This was unusual, and I was excited, but didn’t know how to express it.  So like any little kid, I sang out, “— has a daaate!”

My brother’s hands flew around my neck as I sat in a chair, and he said while pressing, “I’ve been trained to kill.”  He let go before I passed out, but it was terrifying.

I was just a bit older than the daughter Richard choked, but Richard is much taller and larger than my brother was at the time.  I feel for that girl, knowing what it’s like to not know if you’re going to die because somebody is choking you.

If Richard and Tracy are just going to let things go for so long and let them fester,

if they’re not going to act like grown-ups who actually care about somebody outside themselves and apologize for the nasty things they did,

if Richard won’t man up enough to put my mind at ease and apologize for betraying me and threatening Hubby,

if they’re going to profess Christianity but act worse than godless heathens,

then I don’t want them going anywhere near me that they can avoid.

The occasional encounter at the store or the fair can be expected, but they can choose not to go where they know I’ll be.  They do have other options.

And this after all that we did for them and gave them, from money and food to baby supplies, free babysitting and taxi service, and all the things we put up with for their sakes, treating them like family, expecting nothing in return but friendship and kindness, but we didn’t even get that.

We feel used, manipulated.  Every time he sees Richard, Hubby wants to knock him out cold.

Nobody wants to see the person who bullied or abused or molested them, or the person who helped them do it.  Even years later, the sight of this person can bring it all back.  What I feel is perfectly normal, and I will not apologize for it.

Update 1/12/13:
A blog post and comments showing that my reaction is normal: Vanci’s Standing Ground (With Tired Feet)

Also see It’s Perfectly Normal to Dread Seeing Abusers Again, Seeing Abuser is Rough for Abuse Victims, Especially When Abusers & Enablers Blame the Victim: Annie’s MailboxNeeding to Feel Safe: Going to same church as abusers, and Fighting the Darkness: Mutual Friends.

 

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