Breaking the cycle of abuse

This is an extreme case that demonstrates one of the main reasons women don’t leave abusive relationships even once we realize we are in them. It also shows that there is hope to escape from them, no matter how bad they are, and to reclaim your life.

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20 Traits of the Malignant Narcissist

Oh, how much of this rings true!  I don’t know the original source of this, but it’s brilliant.  
Learning about malignant narcissism helped me probably more than anything other than what I learned about sex addiction to understand what happened and how I got caught in the snare of an abuser again after so long successfully spotting and avoiding them.  When you realize how much the deck was stacked against you from the start, you can stop blaming yourself for the things that were never your responsibility to start with, and wouldn’t have made a difference anyways even if you had done them differently.
Interesting that it starts out with lying and ends with penitence,  since whopping and verifiable lies bracketed both the beginning and end of the relationship, the starter one being something he tearfully confessed as having been done to try to protect me, one of the most back-assward things I’ve ever heard in my life.   Sadly, I ignored my gut about this and a number of other screaming red flags, many of which are highlighted  in concept below, and absolutely every single one of which turned out to be exactly what they looked like or worse.  The only reason I didn’t suffer worse damage than I did was because I already understood abuse well, and had long ago learned that when someone is making me feel like I’m crazy and losing my mind, it’s unquestionably him twisting things, and nothing to do with me.
And to the person I had considered a confidante at the time who “informed” me that if things had really been that bad that I wouldn’t have stayed so long, yes, they were indeed every bit as bad as I said at the time, and then some.
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1. THE PATHOLOGICAL LIAR is skillfully deceptive and very convincing. Avoids accountability by diverting topics, dodging questions, and making up new lies, bluffs or threats when questioned. His memory is self serving as he denies past statements. Constant chaos and diverting from reality is their chosen environment.Defense Strategy: Verify his words. Do not reveal anything about yourself – he’ll use it against you. Head for the door when things don’t add up. Don’t ask him questions – you’ll only be inviting more lies.2. THE CONTRACT BREAKER agrees to anything then turns around and does the opposite. Marriage, Legal, Custody agreements, normal social/personal protocol are meaningless. This con artist will accuse you of being the contract breaker. Enjoys orchestrating legal action and playing the role of the ‘poor me’ victim. Defense Strategy: Expect him to disregard any agreement. Have Plan B in place. Protect yourself financially and emotionally.

3. THE HIGH ROLLER Successfully plows and backstabs his way to the top. His family a disposable prop in his success facade. Is charismatic, eloquent and intelligent in his field, but often fakes abilities and credentials. Needs to have iron-fisted control, relying on his manipulation skills. Will ruthlessly support, exploit or target others in pursuit of his ever-changing agenda. Mercilessly abuses the power of his position. Uses treachery or terrorism to rule or govern. Potential problem or failure situations are delegated to others. A vindictive bully in the office with no social or personal conscience. Often suspicious and paranoid. Others may support him to further their own Mephistophelian objectives, but this wheeler-dealer leaves them holding the bag. Disappears quickly when consequences loom.Defense Strategy: Keep your references and resume up to date. Don’t get involved in anything illegal. Document thoroughly to protect yourself. Thwarting them may backlash with a cascade of retaliation. Be on the lookout and spot them running for office and vote them out. Educate yourself about corporate bullies 

4. THE SEXUAL NARCISSIST is often hypersexual (male or female). Pornography, masturbation, incest are reported by his targets. Anything, anyone, young, old, male/female, are there for his gratification. This predator takes what is available. Can have a preference for ‘sado-maso’ sexuality. Often easily bored, he demands increasingly deviant stimulation. However, another behaviour exists, the one who withholds sex or emotional support.Defense Strategy: Expect this type to try to degrade you. Get away from him. Expect him to tell lies about your sexuality to evade exposure of his own.

5. THE BLAME-GAME NARCISSIST never accepts responsibility. Blames others for his failures and circumstances. A master at projection.Defense Strategy: Learn about projection. Don’t take the bait when he blames you. He made the mess let him clean it up.

6. THE VIOLENT NARCISSIST is a wife-Beater, Murderer, Serial Killer, Stalker, Terrorist. Has a ‘chip-on-his-shoulder’ attitude. He lashes out and destroys or uses others (particularly women and children) as scapegoats for his aggression or revenge. He has poor impulse control. Fearless and guiltless, he shows bad judgement. He anticipates betrayal, humiliation or punishment, imagines rejection and will reject first to ‘get it over with’. He will harass and push to make you pay attention to him and get a reaction. He will try to make you look out of control. Can become dangerous and unpredictable. Has no remorse or regard for the rights of others. Defense Strategy: Don’t antagonize or tip your hand you’re leaving. Ask for help from the police and shelters.

7. THE CONTROLLER/MANIPULATOR pits people against each other. Keeps his allies and targets separated. Is verbally skillful at twisting words and actions. Is charismatic and usually gets his way. Often undermines our support network and discourages us from seeing our family and friends. Money is often his objective. Other people’s money is even better. He is ruthless, demanding and cruel. This control-freak bully wants you pregnant, isolated and financially dependent on him. Appears pitiful, confused and in need of help. We rush in to help him with our finances, assets, and talents. We may be used as his proxy interacting with others on his behalf as he sets us up to take the fall or enjoys the performance he is directing.Defense Strategy: Know the ‘nature of the beast’. Facing his failure and consequences will be his best lesson. Be suspicious of his motives, and avoid involvement. Don’t bail him out.

8. THE SUBSTANCE ABUSER Alcohol, drugs, you name it, this N does it. We see his over-indulgence in food, exercise or sex and his need for instant gratification. Will want you to do likewise.Defense Strategy: Don’t sink to his level. Say No.

9. OUR “SOUL MATE” is cunning and knows who to select and who to avoid. He will come on strong, sweep us off our feet. He seems to have the same values, interests, goals, philosophies, tastes, habits. He admires our intellect, ambition, honesty and sincerity. He wants to marry us quickly. He fakes integrity, appears helpful, comforting, generous in his ‘idealization’ of us phase. It never lasts. Eventually Jekyll turns into Hyde. His discarded victims suffer emotional and financial devastation. He will very much enjoy the double-dipping attention he gets by cheating. We end the relationship and salvage what we can, or we are discarded quickly as he attaches to a “new perfect soul mate”. He is an opportunistic parasite. Our “Knight in Shining Armor” has become our nightmare. Our healing is lengthy. Defense Strategy: Seek therapy. Learn about this disorder. Know the red flags of their behaviour, and “If he seems too good to be true…” Hide the hurt you feel. Never let him see it. Be watchful for the internet predator.

10. THE QUIET NARCISSIST is socially withdrawn, often dirty, unkempt. Odd thinking is observed. Used as a disguise to appear pitiful to obtain whatever he can,

11. THE SADIST is now the fully-unmasked malignant narcissist. His objective is watching us dangle as he inflicts emotional, financial, physical and verbal cruelty. His enjoyment is all too obvious. He’ll be back for more. His pleasure is in getting away with taking other people’s assets. His target: women, children, the elderly, anyone vulnerabie. Defense Strategy: Accept the Jekyll/Hyde reality. Make a “No Contact’ rule. Avoid him altogether. End any avenue of vulnerability. Don’t allow thoughts of his past ‘good guy’ image to lessen the reality of his disorder.

12. THE RAGER flies off the handle for little or no provocation. Has a severely disproportionate overreaction. Childish tantrums. His rage can be intimidating. He wants control, attention and compliance. In our hurt and confusion we struggle to make things right. Any reaction is his payoff. He seeks both good or bad attention. Even our fear, crying, yelling, screaming, name calling, hatred are his objectives. If he can get attention by cruelty he will do so. Defense Strategy: Manage your responses. Be fully independent. Don’t take the bait of his verbal abuse. Expect emotional hurt. Volence is possible.

13. THE BRAINWASHER is very charismatic. He is able to manipulate others to obtain status, control, compliance, money, attention. Often found in religion and politics. He masterfully targets the naive, vulnerable, uneducated or mentally weak.Defense Strategy. Learn about brainwashing techniques. Listen to your gut instinct. Avoid them.

14. THE RISK-TAKING THRILL-SEEKER never learns from his past follies and bad judgment. Poor impulse control is a hallmark. Defense Strategy: Don’t get involved. Use your own good judgement. Say No.

15. THE PARANOID NARCISSIST is suspicious of everything usually for no reason. Terrified of exposure and may be dangerous if threatened. Suddenly ends relationships if he anticipates exposure or abandonment. Defense Strategy: Give him no reason to be suspicious of you. Let some things slide. Protect yourself if you anticipate violence.

16. THE IMAGE MAKER will flaunt his ‘toys’, his children, his wife, his credentials and accomplishments. Admiration, attention, even glances from others, our envy or our fear are his objective. He is never satisfied. We see his arrogance and haughty strut as he demands center stage. He will alter his mask at will to appear pitiful, inept, solicitous, concerned, or haughty and superior. Appears the the perfect father, husband, friend – to those outside his home. Defense Strategy: Ignore his childlike behaviours. Know his payoff is getting attention, deceiving or abusing others. Provide him with ‘supply’ to avert problems.

17. THE EMOTIONAL VACUUM is the cruellest blow of all. We learn his lack of empathy. He has deceived us by his cunning ability to mimic human emotions. We are left numbed by the realization. It is incomprehensible and painful. We now remember times we saw his cold vacant eyes and when he showed odd reactions. Those closest to him become objectified and expendable. Defense Strategy: Face the reality. They can deceive trained professionals.

18. THE SAINTLY NARCISSIST proclaims high moral standing. Accuses others of immorality. “Hang ’em high” he says about the murderer on the 6:00 news. This hypocrite lies, cheats, schemes, corrupts, abuses, deceives, controls, manipulates and torments while portraying himself of high morals. Defense Strategy: Learn the red flags of behaviour. Be suspicious of people claiming high morals. Can be spotted at a church near you.

19. THE CALLING-CARD NARCISSIST forewarns his targets. Early in the relationship he may ‘slip up’ revealing his nature saying “You need to protect yourself around me” or “Watch out, you never know what I’m up to.” We laugh along with him and misinterpret his words. Years later, coping with the devastation left behind, his victims recall the chilling warning. Defense Strategy: Know the red flags and be suspicious of the intentions of others.

20. THE PENITENT NARCISSIST says “I’ve behaved horribly, I’ll change, I love you, I’ll go for therapy.” Appears to ‘come clean’ admitting past abuse and asking forgiveness. Claims we are at fault and need to change too. The sincerity of his words and actions appear convincing. We learn his words are verbal hooks. He knows our vulnerabilities and what buttons to push. We question our judgement about his disorder. We can disregard “Fool me once…” We hope for change and minimize past abuse. With a successful retargeting attempt, this N will enjoy his second reign of terror even more if we allow him back in our lives.

Blog Redesign!

It’s now live!  It still needs a lot of tweaking, but we now bring you a white background with black type that is so much easier on the eyes – and a readable size font.  Hopefully some other reorganizational features will happen soon, including breaking some of my epic posts into multiple pages for easier perusing.

How do you like it so far?

 

Fifty Shades of Consent

There has been a lot written in both vanilla and kinky circles about the recent phenomenon which is the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E. L. James.  People seem to either love the series or hate it, and many good arguments have been put forth for each point of view, with people in the kink world mostly coming down on the hate side. It has been decried as poorly written, and as bad education.  It has even inspired some wonderful and bitingly funny parodies such as the one penned by Laura Antoniou, author of the popular Marketplace series.  It is serving as the catalyst for a great deal of discussion in both the kink and the vanilla worlds, and that is never a bad thing.

Despite the negatives, on the whole, I actually really liked the books, and have some thoughts that I’ve not seen addressed elsewhere, specifically around the portrayal of consent.

First of all, before getting to that, what it actually is is a series written by a first time author who researched the subject of BDSM online, and makes no bones about that fact.  It is first and foremost a love story, and largely a literary first in that it is clearly pornographic, but in a format that appeals to a very broad base of mostly vanilla women who generally are not associated with reading porn of any sort beyond the bodice-ripper genre.  It is aimed at the mass market, and has succeeded wildly in exactly what it has set out to accomplish.  It is a mistake to expect a book to be what it is not and was never intended to be – and to read it and to decry it as what it never did set out to be is to entirely miss the point, when reading any book.

The story opens a door into our world that most have never seen, and as such, makes what we do more accessible to the public, and will hopefully serve as a gateway for those who are curious to seek out information and ways to dip their toes into the waters.  It also legitimizes women’s erotica and has gotten the world talking about women’s sexual fantasies and desires, not just those of men.  It was never intended to be a book about BDSM education, so why get so upset that it isn’t?

Great literature it is not, but it is far from as terribly written as many writers have made it out to be.  The much-vaunted Beauty series that is often brought up as a comparison is actually considerably worse, and ultimately deadly boring, despite being written by quite a good author.  For one thing, Fifty Shades actually has a plot line and other things going on in the story beyond the endless jackrabbit-like fucking and sucking that permeate Beauty to the exclusion of everything else, and there is character development.  Whether one actually likes the characters involved or not is a different question, and a matter of personal tastes, but we do see the evolution of both two individuals and their relationship unfold in its pages in what is actually a pretty realistic manner overall, even if the time frame is rather insanely sped up. Continue reading

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“We Need to Talk” – or Is It Off the Table?

Once again, Mo has managed to articulate so much of how I feel about yet another topic – the dreaded “We need to talk“.

I’m so right there with you on the urgency of discussing issues as they come up, but sometimes still needing processing time before raising the questions, along with the abject terror and complete panic that any version of “We need to talk”, or “I want to go over X with you” brings up. Once I’m ready to deal with something, though, I really need to handle it right then and there, with no further delay.

The one thing that really is absolutely clear to me is that it is absolute death to a relationship to ever table things when issues do arise, pretty much no matter what else is going on in either person’s life or the relationship. All they do is pile up and fester, and build up a backlog and logjam until they totally drown out everything else, and reach a point where it becomes absolutely impossible to unravel the mess because you end up not even knowing where to start any more, and the resentments have built to an impossible level.

If you take too much time to process before bringing the issue up and working through it together, the moment is past. Life moves on to the next thing. It gets shoved down where it begins building up and festering, and isn’t resolved by the time the next thing comes up.

In her brilliant book Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, Mira Kirshenbaum says that she has never in her entire career seen a relationship survive when “off-the-table-itis” is in play. When people refuse to talk about an issue, and keep on not wanting to talk about it (or more than one issue), relationships die. Period. If your partner “consistently blocks your attempts to bring up topics or raise questions, particularly about things you care about”, off-the-table-itis is at play. It doesn’t matter whether the topic is, whether it relates directly to the relationship or not. Blocking discussion of any sort blocks communications altogether.

Off-the-table-itis is dismissive. It’s inherently belittling and minimizing. It is neglectful and uncaring. It is cruel and unkind. It tells your partner that you really don’t give a shit about them or what they have to say, and speaks far more loudly than anything else you might do or say to the contrary.

Off-the-table-itis is in play when your partner expects you to listen endlessly to his litany of repeated woes (especially when he does nothing to change them), yet shuts you up when you bring up issues of your own that he doesn’t want to hear. When it’s OK for him to drone on and on about the same problems day after day for years, but the second or third time you bring up one of your own, somehow you are just adding to his own load intolerably and he shuts you up. When he acts as if his troubles are more important than yours and should take priority.

And as such, off-the-table-itis is a particularly insidious form of abuse that is not well-recognized for what it is, especially since it may well be couched in such drama as the perpetrator painting himself as the victim, often of issues entirely outside the relationship such as at work or with his family, depicting himself as one who needs to be taken care of more than you do. He then turns you into the bad guy if you want to still sort things out, or protest something he does, thereby only adding to his woes.

When I get hit with that “We have to talk” thing, it sometimes sends me into a blind panic, particularly if the relationship is on shaky grounds and he’s been engaging in clear off-the-table-itis. I may start looping and freaking out, may even run away initially, maybe even screaming. That’s rare, but it has happened to me. But given half a chance, I will calm down quickly and come right back to the table, as long as the other party doesn’t end up going off looping away on his own, freaking out at my own freak out.

And I will usually come back within minutes, perhaps an hour or two at most. Given the chance. None of this days to weeks later after the rest of life and endless stresses calm down stuff.

Actually, I’ll come back pretty much immediately anyways, no matter what he does. But his reaction at that point will determine whether or not the conversation actually ends up taking place. If he’s still there, it will. If he’s flipped out and thought I was blocking things, it may not.

But I will be there, and I will discuss it.

I need to be able to come back to the table quickly to ensure that we both keep the conversation open, no matter what, and to not table things. When issues arise, I also really badly need to be able to address them right then, when they are particularly urgent, and not put them off until later.

If life events are such that a complete discussion is not possible at that moment, at minimum I need reassurance that things are OK – and that my concerns are both legitimate and being taken seriously. Attempts to dismiss my concerns will only make my need to talk about it RIGHT NOW escalate.

Because life and its stresses don’t stop just because they’re piling up, God knows, and putting off discussions until even later in the week (never mind indefinitely) can lead to a total logjam and turn weekends and other time together into things to dread when a pile of crap has built up, especially when you’re with someone who is masterfully capable of twisting everything you both say to the point that you can no longer keep your own thoughts straight on one issue, never mind a logjam that have now all collided together and become hopelessly intertwined.

My father taught me to never go to bed angry at my partner. It’s not always completely possible in busy lives, but it’s a goal I have always worked towards. It’s mostly doable if the communications are open enough, but is completely impossible if they are not, and if one person keeps blocking the discussion. Or has had a history of blocking other issues that have ended up festering, even if they are not related. It is the blocking of communication of any sort that stops it all dead in its tracks.

I’d give my eye teeth and maybe even my right arm to find someone who could handle this the way Mo’s The Dominant Guy does. Who is secure enough to contain my fears and hold me until they abate, and can carry on with the conversation when either of us needs to. Who is both willing and able to meet me at the table like an adult instead of a petulant two year old.
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April 30, 2011