I finally got a chance to vent privately to my husband on Wednesday, January 2 about what all went on in his house while he was out of the house or the room. I told him the same things I told my mom, about all the abuse, possessiveness and controlling behavior, including the story of her getting jealous just because Richard took me to a corner store so we could chat. (Jeff said in shock and disbelief, “She was jealous of you?”)
He got so furious with Richard and Tracy that I thought he would throw them both out onto the street right then. He says I asked him not to, and that’s the only reason he didn’t, the only reason he didn’t even yell at them. But they came upstairs and were shocked at how angry he was.
I must have asked him not to throw them out because I didn’t want to throw the children onto the street in the middle of a cold winter. He was angry and shocked at Tracy for being jealous of me, of all people.
He felt her behavior was ungrateful and insulting to the hostess, after all I had been doing for them, basically accusing me without cause of being a slut. I wrote to my mother the next day,
I had a long talk about this with Jeff yesterday. He knew some of it, but apparently I hadn’t told him the full extent of what had been going on.
He agreed that Tracy has to stop getting mad at Richard and chewing him out whenever I want to talk with him alone, that he needs to have friends, that we own the house, and that chewing out Richard for talking with me alone is not the way to treat me after I’ve been providing hospitality.
Now that Jeff and I had full agreement on this, I had the strength I needed to take charge. I told Richard that I own the house and she is not to do that anymore, that it’s getting in the way of me being friends with her.
He said that he believes he has it squared away now and there shouldn’t be any more trouble.
Richard and Tracy were in the basement and I was on the main stairs with Jeff, the only way we could talk privately. But I wasn’t even allowed this private grievance session with my own husband:
Tracy must have come upstairs very quietly, because she eavesdropped without my knowledge on this conversation with Jeff. She never told me she heard everything I said. I had no clue until the summer of 2009, when Richard finally admitted it.
Since she was the one listening, not Richard, she got away with blatantly lying to him about what I said. She told him I was manipulating Jeff.
The truth is that I told Jeff what was happening and how I felt about it. If that’s “manipulation,” then proper, direct, open communication with your spouse is “manipulative.”
Then Jeff came up with a way to help me. It wasn’t a good way, but neither of us realized this at the time.
I think what I really wanted him to do, was to sit down Richard and Tracy and explain the rules of the household and being a guest, rather than leaving it all to me to deal with these people. But I don’t remember if I said so, or if I was even able to articulate this at the time.
(Sometimes I don’t know how to explain what I want while I’m speaking. The words I need tend to come while writing drafts of e-mails–or blog posts.)
This is the first time I know of that Tracy lied to Richard to smear me and slander my character; there were other times to come, when she either lied to him about me, or twisted my actions and slandered my character to him over and over again, while I was in my house blissfully unaware (until he told me about it).
When she later accused me in 2012 of defaming her character, this was hypocritical, because she defamed my character to her mother, husband and on Facebook, and defamed Todd’s character to an entire web forum/gaming group.
And I did not defame her: To defame is to lie and tell half-truths to make a false representation, and I have been scrupulously honest in these accounts. (I have been honest to the point of fear, which I bravely faced and posted anyway, because I want to be a trustworthy narrator.)
I also do not name her or post her personal identifying information, because this is about telling the story of my trauma in my own way, NOT about smearing her to her friends/co-workers/etc. or getting it to show up in Google searches for her. But I digress.
She then decided I hated her, was biased against her, was a terrible person, had bad character, must not spend any time alone with her husband without her okay, and was “moving in on” her husband. Anything and everything I did was evidence supporting this theory.
During this time period, I’m told, she almost killed me for something she wrongly interpreted as vixenlike behavior, though I wasn’t aware of this for a year and a half. (I have no idea if this was meant literally or metaphorically.)
As for what I did: I have already explained how Richard taught me that putting your head on another’s shoulder and sleeping is an innocent expression of friendship, nothing more. That our arms stayed folded around ourselves, NOT each other, and in a friendship manner. He made it sound like this was normal friendship behavior where he grew up.
(From what I just read in an abuse blog by a woman around that area, and her descriptions of caring gestures by a close platonic friend with no romantic feelings for her, this may actually be true.)
I was wrapped in a small couch/throw blanket because I’m always cold in the wintertime, and was now cold with illness; I was NOT sharing it with him, he was NOT under this blanket, had no blanket on him at all. Even if I wanted to share it, this little blanket couldn’t possibly stretch far enough to cover him, too. But no, I did not share it with him, despite her later claims to the contrary.
I was sick, desperately needed a nap, my son was asleep in my room, and the couch was crowded. Normally back then, I often took naps during the day (probably exhausted from caring for a toddler), and preferred to nap on the couch instead of on my bed. It’s just a quirk, hard to explain why, but I don’t like lying down to nap.
All these people interfered with my normal nap routine, along with everything else. I also did not want to wake up my son by going in the bedroom, and sickness makes it hard to breathe when sleeping on your back. I felt just rotten, but couldn’t get a nap or any rest at all.
I was wrapped in a blanket because I’m always cold in the wintertime, but my sickness made it worse. Richard was beside me on the couch; finally, I put my head on his big, squishy shoulder, which was just like a large pillow, not some bony skinny shoulder, and fell right to sleep.
An innocent act, no more “vixenlike” than the guy who put his head on another guy’s shoulder on the subway.
But it inspired Tracy–in a massive overreaction which showed the violent truth of her character–to kill me! She only kept herself in check because of fear that we’d throw her out. (Well, yeah, if you kill me, or even if you just beat me up, my husband won’t let you stick around. He’ll get your *** thrown in jail.)
Richard later told me that Tracy’s reaction was based not on the act itself, but that if, say, a certain other friend from the Forum did it, Tracy would find it cute and join in, because she was friends with Tracy….
Which is, of course, maddening, because Tracy had already told me that she and I were friends.
But she changed her mind on that without telling me so, or why, because I had trouble carrying on conversations with her, and because I desperately needed time by myself every day to recharge (things I did not know until the summer of 2009).
Basically, because I am an introvert with NVLD, who desperately needed time alone every day during a house invasion which had gone on for weeks, she began acting jealous and controlling toward me, but never told me why.
Then I recognized her verbal abuse and controlling behavior for what it was, rather than saying she was right and justified.
So she eavesdropped when I told my husband what was going on, did not tell me she overheard, was prejudiced against me for being an introvert, and made me jump through impossible hoops before she would consider me her friend and allow me to do things like this, which she would allow her other friends to do.
So she wanted to kill me because I was sick and needed a nap, and because I followed Richard’s directions to do this when she was not in the room (and fell asleep), NOT because I actually “did” anything.
I made no moves on her husband, did not try to get him to kiss me or go to bed with me or any crap like that which would have deserved her ire.
By the way, my husband came home and saw it, remembered we have SCA friends who do this sort of thing, shrugged his shoulders, and went on with life, never saying a word about it.
In fact, a month or two later, I even mentioned it to him to explain why Tracy was mad at me this time, without fear that he would berate me over it.
Not only did he not berate me, but he understood it was platonic, and still did not tell me he already saw me. I did not find out until August 2010, when he told me Tracy’s reaction was overblown and ridiculous!
Basically, I did something which would have been perfectly fine with her if I were an extrovert without NVLD, and if I accepted all her abuse as okay. It was a double standard which discriminated against me for what I was and could not change. Nobody told me she saw this and was upset, until a month or two later.
Once I found out this upset her so much, I thought she overreacted, and was puzzled because I thought it was normal behavior where they came from?
However, I never did it again, respecting her boundaries–but continued to pay for it constantly for two more years as she kept bringing it up with Richard as evidence of my bad character, and then ripped into me for it in the summer of 2010.
Because I was sick and desperately needed a nap on a crowded couch. Because I had been taught by Richard that such behavior was perfectly fine, normal and appropriate among friends. (The jerk set me up!)
You will also note that it was the middle of the afternoon, in the main room in full view of the kitchen and front door, while she was awake and my husband was about to come home.
NOT late at night or while the house was empty, like when Richard did it before. Which is further proof of the innocence of my actions.
There was also another time when they were up late watching TV, she was on one side of him on the couch and I was on the other, and I tried to nap against his shoulder because the TV was boring and I was sleepy. But she never mentioned that I did do this in front of her once, did she?
No, I was falsely accused of bad motives and character, and constantly slandered by this woman, who knew that I saw her abusing her husband and children.
And now I was supposed to suck up to her and court her favor or else I’d stay on her sh** list and be “that woman” who wasn’t her friend and couldn’t say or do much of anything to him without her getting upset.
This is a common abusive tactic: Slander your spouse’s friend and make his life miserable, because the friend could open his eyes to the truth of the abuse. Use intimidation and pressure to get him to only be friends with people you approve.
Memories of Phil were still fresh in my mind from writing and researching about his abuse in 2006/2007. This was a tactic he used to try to separate me from my group of best friends, who saw he was treating me badly.
Richard kept things from me that I needed to know, such as the fact that Tracy overheard my complaints to my husband, and saw me asleep on his shoulder.
Meanwhile, I overheard her complaining about me or my son to Richard or her mother on occasion, sometimes quietly, and sometimes so I could hear.
Rather than get them out in the open and deal with them directly with us, she was passive-aggressive. (Note that I did not go to Jeff until after I tried to sort things out with them, but conditions continued to deteriorate.)
And I was not allowed to object to her jealous, abusive and controlling behavior, or say how she treated Richard was wrong, or say that I will not be disrespected in my own house–or she would lose all respect for us and go back across the country to the state she came from. (Right there: intimidation, delivered through Richard as her proxy.)
But it was well within my rights to object to abuse and other mistreatment of my friends, and to say that no one was to be abused and mistreated in my house.
That included objecting to her telling Richard not to go to the bar and grill with me. She thought I was horrible and disrespectful of her to even ask him in the first place! Say WHAT?
Even two and a half years later, she still got on my case about this, saying “everybody knows” you don’t do this without being friends with the wife first, and making me into a horrible person for “violating” this “rule.”
First of all, there is no such “rule.” I have occasionally gone out to lunch or some other thing with a friend or boss, or had conversations with him, without consulting the wife first–or even knowing her, period, let alone being friends with her. And the wife never put up a fuss about it.
The only “rule” is that you are open and honest, don’t sneak around and lie about where you went or who you were with, because that’s a red flag of cheating.
Second, she herself TOLD me I was her friend weeks before I even asked him!
Third, it was Richard’s idea to take me to that bar and grill in the first place. He never informed me that one-on-one conversations and going to get ice cream, which were all perfectly fine and allowed for the past two months, were suddenly verboten.
I had absolutely no reason to think there was anything wrong or “inappropriate” about continuing to do these things.
It is gravely immoral to be mean to your close friends, to restrict your husband’s friends, to be jealous without cause, and to be hostile to the person who is sheltering you in her own home.
It is gravely immoral to treat close friendship as if it were expendable, as if it could just get tossed away.
It is gravely immoral to verbally abuse your kids all day and your husband all evening. It is gravely immoral to be violent, whether verbally or physically.
Yet I was treated as if my feelings on the matter, my opinions, were just so much garbage to get tossed out with the rest of the trash, that I was a horrible, hateful person to even have them.
Richard’s own behavior was baffling through all this. The first day she moved in, he told me she was a jealous person who went through his cell phone logs. She discovered that while he lived with us, the female friend she was “at war” with had called him, and he called her back.
She got furious with him for it, even though he and this friend had always been platonic, and the friend was thousands of miles away.
I heard his conversations with this friend; they were appropriate, just catching up and news of the church the friend still went to and that Richard and Tracy used to go to. He was upset with Tracy’s behavior, and I found it bizarre.
In just a short time, I had a full picture of a domestic abuser who considered me a threat to her control. Especially after she eavesdropped on Jeff and me, she knew I recognized her abuse for what it was.
Because I now know that she eavesdropped, I am confident that this was her true reason for the smear campaign and making me jump through hoops to please her.
I remember Richard saying she “heard every word” of what I said to Jeff, in that scolding tone which implied that I lied to Jeff, or that there was something wrong in what I said to him.
But I told Jeff nothing but the truth–and they obviously had no qualms talking to each other about me. Yet more intimidation and control, not just from Tracy but from Richard as well, trying to keep me under their thumb.
I have always wondered what all Tracy told Richard I said. I know she lied about me manipulating Jeff; what else did she lie about? This is how domestic abusers operate when they know they are found out:
Domestic abusers use various methods to separate their victims from anyone who could open the eyes of the victim to the abuse. An abuser will object to your friends and family, either unilaterally or just the ones who recognize the abuse.
She’ll lie to you about that friend/family member. She’ll tell you that person is bad and you should not associate with her. She’ll smear her to you, slander her character with lies and half-truths, to drive a wedge between you and your friend/family member.
She’ll tell you a friend made moves on her, even though it is a lie. She’ll forbid you to be friends with someone she has not approved, or allow it but make life difficult for you whenever you see that friend. Or she’ll make life so difficult for that friend that he breaks off relations with you.
She’ll reward you for sticking up for her, and subject you to more abuse if you object to how she treats your friend. This, also, drives friends away, because nobody will put up with that for long if they don’t have to.
In the end, you are isolated from everyone who could open your eyes and help you out of the abusive relationship.
One day Richard complained that his wife should allow him to spend time with his friends, too, and was it really so wrong for him to do so?
But whenever I myself complained about how she treated me, or how she treated him, he defended her, spoke like I didn’t know what I was talking about and there was nothing wrong with her behaving this way.
Even a year and a half later, he told me her treatment of him during this time was his fault because of this and this and this. This is Stockholm Syndrome, also known as the FOG (Fear, Obligation, Guilt), which drives an abuse victim to defend the abuse. For example, the wife who’s beaten and then says, “It was my fault. I shouldn’t have upset him.”
As for consideration for Tracy’s feelings, Jeff and I had many conversations about this situation, and he did try to get me to see Tracy’s side as well. This led to me going to Richard, contrite.
I do acknowledge that I did a few things wrong myself during this time. I spoke to Richard about these things, some of them during this time, others later on after they moved out. I also stopped trying to get him to go to the bar and grill with me.
But even though I told him she did many things to hurt me, he told me not to expect any apologies from her at all, that it was very difficult for anybody to get apologies from her (including him).
Even though twice I suggested apologizing to her on Forgiveness Sunday (which begins Lent in Orthodoxy), the first time he said it was not necessary (that she only wanted apologies from him), and the second time, he gave Jeff the impression that my apologizing would somehow be dangerous for me.
As a housewife with a small child (not potty trained) and a cold northern winter outside, I was in a tiny house 24/7 with this jealous, hostile person, who also had no job.
One night, I even overheard her talking to Richard and saying my son’s name several times, angrily. (I don’t know what else she said.) How on earth could she speak badly about a 3-year-old child???!!!
It was extremely stressful and insulting after all I was doing for her, and after she overheard me venting to my own husband about it, she got even worse.
Shortly after, while I was in the bathroom next to the kitchen, I heard her in the kitchen lying to her mother about me (and on my phone, too, using my long distance!).
She went on and on about the dinners we were providing, and that “No, your grandchildren are not eating vegetables.” This was an outright lie, because I put vegetables in nearly every dinner.
She b**ched about that week’s dinner menu. I made that menu in the midst of cleaning up the lice they brought into the house. I had no time to worry about balanced meals, just had to come up with something quickly so my husband could get groceries, and so I could get back to combing nits and washing every single thing our heads had touched.
Also, we were spending $300-$400 a week on groceries with absolutely no financial help from them, so we had to get meals as cheaply as we could. (In today’s prices, that’s like $340-$450.) Everything from scratch is far too expensive when you’re feeding eight people, and who has time for that with small children running around?
Other meals were up to them, but I made sure we had vegetables for dinner. We also had a lot of fasting days during this time, so many meals were heavy on vegetables. (The Orthodox Church asks believers to fast from certain food items–especially meat–for a few weeks during the Christmas season. So you have to eat vegetables or go hungry!)
So she was even going to smear me to her mother with lies and half-truths? And I later learned from Richard that she did this on purpose to get back at me, as vengeance for what I told Jeff! This woman was frickin’ vindictive!
But no, one week’s lapse because we were far too busy cleaning up lice to make up a proper meal plan or grocery list, and she rips on me for it as if that’s always the case.
Then she b**ched at her mother that I don’t cook, Jeff does. Apparently there was something “wrong” with this, too, though what, I have no clue.
This was none of her frickin’ business! He did the cooking because I was exhausted from taking care of the house and our small child all day.
What’s so terrible about a husband sharing the load while the kids are small? Was this related to her refusing to help Richard with the house and kids, expecting him to take care of it all himself?
Apparently, in her mind, her abusing her husband and children and being nasty to me was somehow nowhere near as bad as me providing food she didn’t like, or letting my husband cook.
(I mean, seriously, I accuse her of being an abuser and this is all the “dirt” she can come up with on me to “throw in my face”?)
When the kids got into some children’s medicine, I did not wish to assign blame, even though she was supposed to be watching them every day so I could do my normal daily tasks without keeping an eye on four wandering children.
But I heard her on the phone with Richard, pinning the blame on me, saying “I guess she was going about her–” insert extremely snotty tone here–“routine,” even though the medicine had been in the medicine cabinet where it belonged–and she was just a few feet away from the bathroom.
And even though she tended to leave her allergy meds on the coffee table. I believe the youngest child was with me at the time.
Oh, so now I was expected to watch the children, too, on top of all the other work these people made for me?
I was only beginning to get a picture of just how vindictive, controlling, blame-shifting and hysterical this woman really was. She claimed to not know me, yet I was beginning to know her quite well–and I did not like what I saw.
So today’s dose of truth and reality is this: Evil must mask itself with good in order for it to make a living. Evil must hide itself by hiding the truth of who and what they are. Therefore, full truth (light) is anathema to evil.
You know this is true. You’ve tried to bring just a smidgen of truth to the table with the narcissist and you saw the hissing, spitting and reviling it invoked.
The extreme reaction is the narcissist’s attempt to get you to drop the holy water before he gets burned.
That is not the moment to fumble or drop the truth. Thrust that stake deep into his heart and then put him in the ground. Metaphorically speaking, of course. –Anna Valerious, Narcissists Suck: They Hide From the Truth Because Their Deeds Are Evil
Abusers believe they have a right to control their partners in the abusive relationships by utilizing the tactics found in the power and control wheel, by:
- Telling them what to do and expecting obedience
- Using force to maintain power and control over partners
- Feeling their partners have no right to challenge their desire for power and control
- Feeling justified making the victim comply
- Blaming the abuse on the partner and not accepting responsibility for wrongful acts. —Power and Control Wheel in Abusive Relationships