Tag Archives: emotional

Secrets Narcissists Have But Hope Victims Don’t Learn

Narcissists have secrets that they hope will remain secret indefinitely.  Learning these secrets can help you when you must deal with a narcissist or to sever ties with them.

One of their biggest fears is that they will be forced to be held accountable for their actions.  Document EVERYTHING the narcissist says & does to you.  Save voicemails, text messages, emails, screen shots, etc.  Save these items to cloud storage or email them to yourself & save on the server rather than on your phone & computer to be sure they aren’t accidentally lost.  Don’t forget to hide the access information from the narcissist too!  This documentation can work to your advantage if you need to go to the police, go to court or get a restraining order.  It also can make a narcissist afraid of being exposed, damaging their reputation.   Mention discussing their behavior with someone, for example.  No doubt the narcissist will immediately tell you what a horrible person that is you’ve been speaking with in an attempt to make you stop speaking to them.  This fear of discovery means they may discard you quickly, freeing you of their abuse, so don’t hesitate to drop hints about documenting their behavior. 

Acting indifferent to a narcissist is devastating to them.  Narcissists love attention, be it good or bad.  Showing a narcissist that nothing they do affects you is utterly devastating to them.  Narcissists feed off of emotional responses, so by denying them that, they will get bored & leave you alone.  If you must deal with a narcissist, show no reaction whatsoever to anything they do.  If you have ended the relationship & they’re trying to harass you, never respond.  Any response will be their fuel to try to hurt you further, so deprive them of that fuel!

Any attempt from a narcissist to lure you back into the relationship isn’t because they truly love & miss you.  Instead, it is so the narcissist can abuse you further, then end the relationship on his or her terms.  Narcissists must be in control & you ending the relationship removed their control.  This infuriates narcissists!  They usually do whatever they can to rekindle the relationship.  They try to lure their victims back with false promises of change or they even try scaring them into resuming the relationship.  Once the victim is back, the narcissist abuses the victim even worse than before, then discards the victim.

You are nothing more than narcissistic supply to a narcissist.  Narcissists don’t see people as human beings.  They only see them as tools to be used however the narcissist sees fit.  This is why they are able to abuse & throw away people so easily.  People mean nothing more to narcissists than a screwdriver or hammer.

When a narcissist tells you someone else is much better than you, what they mean is that person has fallen for their act.  This other person hasn’t caught on to what the narcissist really is yet, so they provide good narcissistic supply.  In the eyes of a narcissist, that makes this person better than you.

Narcissists will apologize, but it won’t be a sincere apology.  Narcissists prefer to control without resorting to apologies, but they will if they think it will get them what they want.  There are big problems with narcissistic apologies, however.  They never accompany the narcissist accepting responsibility for their behavior & making appropriate changes.  As if this doesn’t prove enough that the apology isn’t genuine, their words do that too.  They say things like, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or, “I’m sorry you think I did something wrong.”  These fake apologies are meant to pacify a victim by saying, “I’m sorry” while not accepting any responsibility for the bad behavior.

Narcissists will use your empathy against you.  Covert narcissists in particular have no problem making you feel sorry for them if it will accomplish their goal.  They do this in various ways.  One way is apologizing for their actions but offering excuses such as “I was just trying to help!”  or, “I didn’t know that would upset you!”  Adding such comments onto an apology is meant to make you accept their abusive behavior because their excuse makes it ok.  You are supposed to feel ashamed for being upset about their abusive actions, & accept that behavior again.

Keeping these things in mind can help you cope when you must deal with a narcissist.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Scars

Often a physical injury results in a scar.  Did you ever think about the fact that psychological injuries also result in scars?  They may not be so easy to see like physical scars, but they are there nonetheless.

PTSD & C-PTSD are scars that result from exposure to extreme trauma or multiple traumas.  The traumas were so bad they literally “broke” a person’s brain, causing physical changes, that create some very difficult problems to cope with.

Depression is a scar resulting from living through the horrors of emotional abuse.  The constant berating, gaslighting & more of emotional abuse created depression that can last even long after the relationship has ended.

Anxiety is a scar that comes from living with someone, either a parent or a spouse who is demanding, highly volatile & unpredictable.  The constant feeling of walking on eggshells in an attempt to avoid angry outbursts creates anxiety that can last a lifetime, whether or not the volatile person is still in a victim’s life or not.

These scars are incredibly difficult to live with, I know.  I live with C-PTSD as a result of the narcissistic abuse I’ve endured.  It is a horrible disorder to live with but for me, the anxiety & depression are probably the worst parts of it.  It could be very easy to get caught up in the heartbreaking, discouraging & unfair nature of it all.  Honestly, there are some times that happens.  However, there are also times it doesn’t happen because of the perspective I try to have on these scars.  My hope is this information will help you too.

Scars remind you of what you’ve been through so you retain what you learned.  Having survived narcissistic parents, an ex husband, in-laws & countless so called friends & family, naturally I’ve learned a lot.  That’s a good thing, because now I spot unsafe people easily.  I know quickly either to avoid them or to have firm boundaries in place if I must deal with them.  I also know when they are attempting to manipulate me, & avoid falling for their games.

Scars also remind you that you survived something that was meant to destroy you.  This can be really hard to remember when you’re facing suicidal thoughts, flashbacks or paralyzing anxiety or depression, but it’s true.  The goal of narcissists is to destroy their victim emotionally.  (If they can tear a person down enough, that person will be easy to bend to their will, so it just makes sense that is the goal of narcissists.)  You survived that!  Yes, you still have issues from it but who wouldn’t?!  You survived something really terrible, & that is the main thing!

What I think is the best part of all is that scars also are an excellent reminder of God being by your side, through this “valley of the shadow of death,” so to speak.  Remember Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;” (KJV)  Your scar is reminder that although you went through something utterly horrific, God was by your side the entire time helping you to survive.  He loves you so much, & your scars are a reminder of that wonderful fact.

When you have problems because of the scars you have as a result of surviving narcissistic abuse, please try not to get discouraged!  I know it’s hard, but you can do it.  Remember the points in this post.  Be gentle & understanding with yourself.  Acknowledge your feelings & accept them.  If you feel things like you’re damaged, a burden to your loved ones or other negative things like that, remind yourself that they are simply old beliefs stemming from narcissistic abuse.  And, most of all, lean on God.  Pray often. Ask Him for comfort, strength, wisdom, guidance & anything else you can think of.  Remember, He was there with you “through the valley of the shadow of death.”  He is still with you!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Types Of Abuse That Are Rarely Recognized As Abuse

When most people think of an abusive person, they think of someone who is physically abusive, such as the man who beats his wife & children.  Some may also think of a verbally abusive person, too.  There is so much more to abuse than these two methods, however!  Narcissists often use the following tactics, so it’s wise to be aware of them.

Forcing a person to do something they don’t want to do is abuse.  This can include anything, such as following unreasonable rules, looking a certain way or even performing sexual acts.  The forcing can be accomplished in many ways, like withholding money, using intimidation, guilt or shaming or simply telling the victim there is no choice in this matter.

An extremely possessive & jealous romantic partner is being abusive.  Almost everyone has a little bit of possessiveness & jealousy in them, & that is normal.  Being upset someone flirted with your spouse is bound to bring out that jealous streak.  What is not normal in that situation is if someone becomes enraged at their spouse, accusing them of having an affair with the person who flirted with them or even resorting to physical violence.  When your partner’s jealousy makes you afraid to speak with anyone your partner doesn’t approve of, this is a sign that their behavior is abusive.

Giving no privacy is abusive.  Unless you have given someone a valid reason not to trust you, such as if you cheated on your spouse, there is no good reason for you not to have privacy in your relationships.  It’s healthy for each person in a relationship, any relationship, to have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Each person should be able to trust that the other person won’t snoop through their emails, phone, purse, etc.  Snooping makes a person feel guilty & paranoid about everything, even when they have no reason to feel that way.  It’s a miserable way to live!

Isolation is abuse.  If the other person you’re in a relationship with tries to keep you from seeing your friends & family, this is a huge red flag!  Abusers of all kinds like to isolate their victims as a means of being able to control them.  Isolation limits the information, help & support a victim can receive, which makes them easier to abuse.

Intimidation is also abuse.  My ex husband used to punch walls sometimes when he was angry with me.  He even told me that I was lucky he hit the wall instead of me, because that was what he wanted to do.  Intimidation also can come in the form of someone telling you that they’ll tell everyone you know private things about you & that no one will want anything to do with you after they know those things.

Keeping you from accessing any money is abusive.  Naturally parents don’t allow their children to access their bank accounts, but they also don’t restrict their children from working.  They also don’t expect their children to give them most of their paycheck for rent.  A spouse that refuses to add your name to bank accounts or credit cards, or prevents you from working is also being abusive.

Using religion to force you to behave as they want is abusive.  Spiritual abuse seems to be on the rise.  It can come from those in the church, spouses & even parents.  Spiritual abuse is when someone tries to manipulate your behavior by twisting Scripture around to justify their abusing you or manipulating you into doing what they want.  This is one more reason I believe it’s wise to have plenty of knowledge of the Bible.  People who spiritually abuse can be quite convincing with what they have to say.  The best way to combat this is to have knowledge of the Bible & a relationship with God.

Just remember, Dear Reader, anyone who shows these behaviors is being abusive.  Don’t tell yourself it’s no big deal, it doesn’t mean anything or any other excuses.  These behaviors are abusive & you have every right to protect yourself!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Encouragement For Those Still In Relationships With Narcissists

I know it seems like it’s only you.  No one else is still sticking it out with a narcissist in their life.  You probably even feel ashamed & like a coward for not ending the relationship when so many other folks have.  Today I want you to know that it isn’t only you, you have no valid reason to feel ashamed, & you aren’t a coward!

So much information says, “Just go no contact” when it comes to narcissists.  They make it sound so easy, as do many survivors of narcissistic abuse.  The truth of the matter though is no contact isn’t easy!

It isn’t important whether the narcissist in your life is a friend, romantic partner or even a parent.  Ending any relationship is very sad & painful.  Although that usually is the best solution & often the only one when dealing with a narcissist, even that doesn’t make this an easy or less sad solution.

There is also the fact that narcissists don’t usually abuse strangers.  They abuse those closest to them.  Ending a relationship with someone you have known for a month isn’t so hard.  Ending it with someone you have a long history with however is really tough.

Don’t forget too, that narcissists can behave very well when they want to.  It can be so hard to leave someone who has the ability to be good to you!  Most people want that good version to come back & are willing to hang in there in the hopes it will happen.

If you believe no contact is the right solution for your situation yet are having trouble taking that step, please know you’re ok.  Really!  No contact is such a difficult move to make.  It often takes a great deal of time to work up the inner strength to end an abusive relationship.  Narcissists do their best to destroy their victims’ self esteem.  Once that happens, it takes a lot of time & work to rebuild that self esteem to the point of being able to leave the abuser.

If you’re living with the narcissist in your life, maybe you are in the unfortunate situation of being financially dependent on this person.  It happens more often than you may realize.  Narcissists abuse in every possible way, even financially.  They often spend all their victim’s money, run up the victim’s credit cards, create a great deal of debt in the victim’s name then refuse to pay is in order to ruin the victims’ credit & even force a victim to sign their paychecks over to them leaving the victim destitute.

None of these scenarios are your fault.  Sadly they are very common.

You will know when & if the time is right to end the relationship with the narcissist in your life.  Until that time comes, there are some things you can do to make your situation a bit more bearable.

Always remember to pray.  Ask God for help.  Ask Him to give you creative & effective ways to deal with the narcissist.  Ask Him to help you by giving you whatever you need to go no contact.

Never forget that the primary motivation of anything a narcissist does is narcissistic supply.  The less supply you provide, the more likely the narcissist will leave you alone.  Think about this person- what provides him or her with that supply?  Stop doing those things.  Your anger provides supply?  Never show the narcissist you’re angry.  You looking your best provides supply?  Then let yourself look sloppy sometimes.  No doubt you can come up with a list of things that provide this person with narcissistic supply & ways to stop providing it.

One tool I found to be quite useful with narcissists is asking logical questions without showing any emotions.  You can say things like, “I don’t understand what you mean.  Would you explain that?”  “Why do you think that is a good idea?”  Asking these kinds of questions in a calm manner flusters narcissists.  It shows that you’re onto their manipulation, but in a manner that they know if they get mad at you, they’ll look foolish.  Since narcissists hate the very thought of looking bad in any way, chances are good they will change the subject to avoid this conversation.

If you don’t know much about boundaries, then it is time for you to learn.  You have every right to have reasonable boundaries, such as being able to say no without inciting rage.  You also don’t have to explain your boundaries.  Doing so only encourages a narcissist to try to convince their victim why their boundaries are wrong & instill doubt.  It’s best to state your boundaries without explanation.

Also never forget that the way the narcissist is treating you isn’t about you.  It isn’t personal at all.  I know it feels that way but the truth is the narcissist behaves this way because they have issues.  It isn’t because you deserve to be treated as they are doing.  Remembering this can help to take some of the pain out of their abusive ways.

Lastly, if you are able, low contact is a very good stepping stone to no contact.  Only deal with the narcissist when you feel able to do so.  Give yourself permission not to take every single phone call or visit the narcissist every time he or she demands you do so.  Sometimes, narcissists in this position will initiate no contact with their victim since the victim is no longer a good source of narcissistic supply.

Remember, no contact is a very big decision.  There is nothing wrong with you for taking your time about making that big step.  Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!  You will know in your heart when the time is right & have the ability to do so!

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Ways Narcissists Hurt Victims

Narcissists love to hurt their victims.  It gives them a feeling of power, control & superiority to be able to affect victims as profoundly as they do, so it’s no wonder they do it so often.

Narcissists have a vast collection of ways to cause their victims pain.  Following is a list of some of their favorite methods used to accomplish this.  Some of these methods are quite subtle, & may not even seem abusive at first, but they absolutely are.

If you want validation, count on the narcissist to withhold it from you.  Narcissists won’t tell you that you did a good job or that you’re right about something.  Withholding validation is a form of invalidation, & is done to let you know how unimportant everything about you is.

If something important is going on with you, whether it is good or bad, you can expect a narcissist to steal the spotlight somehow.  They may invent a crisis or pick a fight with you.  If something bad is happening to you, they may steal the spotlight by talking about how the event affects them.  My ex husband & father did this constantly.  I ended up comforting them rather than them comforting me.

If you need help with something, you can expect the narcissist to resist.  Either he or she will disappear completely or will help but do things in a lazy, sloppy way.  If this person does help you, the help most likely accompanied by a great deal of complaining or letting you know what a huge sacrifice he or she is making & how you should appreciate it.

If you’re sick or injured, you can count on a narcissist to disappear or act annoyed with your suffering.  Since they lack empathy, they won’t care about how awful you feel.  They most likely will trivialize your suffering on the off chance they acknowledge it.  And, if the narcissist in question is your romantic partner, don’t think your illness or injury will have any affect on your sex life.  You still will be expected to perform as normal, no matter the state of your health.

If you want sex from your narcissistic partner, you can count on the narcissistic partner to claim to be too tired.  They must be in control in every area, & that includes your sex life.  They also don’t care what their victims want in any area.

If you’re talking, chances of the narcissist interrupting you are excellent.  It keeps the focus on them because a person who is interrupted naturally stops talking to let the interrupting person talk.

If you’re lonely, you can expect the narcissist suddenly to be too busy to spend time with you.  The same goes if you need to talk to him or her about something.  If you decide to spend time with someone else, the narcissist will become angry that you didn’t just wait to spend time with him or her.  You will be called unreasonable, impossible to please or something similar.

If you want to drive somewhere when you & the narcissist go out together, count on your driving being criticized either actively or passively, no matter how safely you drive.  Actively criticizing it is easy to spot.  They tell you that you’re driving too fast, tailgating or other similar comments.  Passive criticizing isn’t so easy to spot.  It’s quieter & more covert, such as bracing themselves as you approach a red light or stop sign or cringing as you drive.  I believe the passive criticism is even worse, because if you say something, the narcissist has plausible deniability.  He or she can say things like, “I never complained about your driving!”  “I never said you were speeding!”  Before you know it, you easily can end up apologizing to the narcissist.

When you witness these behaviors from the narcissist in your life, remind yourself that they are abusive!  You aren’t unreasonable or wrong or impossible to please.  The narcissist is trying to hurt you.  Don’t let that happen!  Remind yourself what is happening so you aren’t hurt by their ridiculous & abusive behavior.

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Taking Back Your Power From The Narcissist

Narcissists love to manipulate & control their victims.  One way they control their victims is to make them feel powerless, as if they have absolutely no control over any aspect of their own lives.

Feeling completely out of control & powerless is a horrible way to feel!  It saps your joy & makes you feel utterly hopeless.  Being depressed & hopeless may make you miserable, but it also will make a narcissist feel wonderful.  This is because they have control over you & know you won’t do anything about it.

Don’t let the narcissist in your life get away with doing this to you!  Take your power back!  You can do this!!

As always, I recommend you start with prayer.  God will be glad to give you whatever you need, be it insight, strength, courage or anything else.  Let Him help you!!  You need every advantage you can get where narcissists are concerned, so why not let God help you?

If you haven’t done it already, start learning about boundaries.  You need to have very clear views on where you end & the narcissist begins, because one way narcissists remove a victim’s power is by blurring those boundaries.  Victims often feel responsible for the narcissist in ways that they shouldn’t.  As an example, narcissists make victims feel responsible for their feelings & actions.  How many times has the narcissist in your life said something like, “You made me do that!”  “I wouldn’t be so angry if you wouldn’t have said/done what you did!”?  I would guess you can think of many examples.  I certainly can.

As you learn about boundaries, you’ll need to learn some new & even creative ways to say no to the narcissist.  Always remember, normal ways to set boundaries don’t work with narcissists, so avoid saying things like, “Please don’t do that.. it hurts me when you do that.”  Admitting the narcissist’s behavior hurts you only provides narcissistic supply which means they’ll do that thing over & over again.  Instead, say things like:

  • I’m sorry.  I have other plans.
  • I can’t do that.
  • I can’t make it that day.
  • I’ll consider what you suggested.
  • That isn’t going to happen.
  • I’m not interested.
  • Thank you, but no.
  • No (without any explanation, simply saying the word).

There are also other things you can do to help yourself to regain some control.  Start small.  Organize your purse, a desk drawer, your car’s glove compartment.  Work up from there onto something larger, maybe get rid of some clothes you no longer like even though the narcissist likes them.  You also could paint a room or replace a piece of furniture.  Keep taking back your power, little by little.  The more you do it, the easier it becomes & the less you’re willing to settle for someone taking away your power.

Naturally as you do these things, the narcissist is NOT going to be happy about it.  Most likely, the narcissist will realize that a rage will make him or her look bad, so that won’t happen.  Instead, probably there will be passive/aggressive behaviors such as giving the silent treatment.  Invalidation is also common.  The narcissist may act as if there is something wrong with you for liking whatever it is you did that took back some of your power.  Criticism certainly is going to happen.  The narcissist will let you know that whatever you did was wrong, stupid, a waste of time & anything else negative they can think to say.

When the narcissist acts this way, always remember that it says more about the narcissist than you.  Normal, functional people encourage others to be independent & have good boundaries.  They also aren’t threatened by such things.  Only unsafe & even narcissistic people are threatened by such normal, healthy, behaviors.

Dear Reader, you can do this!  You can take back your power!

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Why Victims Should Tell Their Stories

Before I write one word on this topic, let me just say that I don’t believe every single person who has experienced abuse must write books or a blog about their experiences.  It’s a very good thing to do of course, but it also isn’t every person’s calling in life.  If you’re reading this & immediately felt badly because you have yet to write publicly about your experiences, then please stop.  You have no reason to feel badly!  That may not be what God has planned for you, & there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

That being said….

I firmly believe that everyone who has suffered narcissistic abuse needs to be open about their experiences.  No victim has a reason to feel shame for being abused, so why hide it?  Why pretend it didn’t happen?  Instead, be open about your story.  The Bible says in  Proverbs 31:8-9:

“Speak up for the people who have no voice,
for the rights of all the down-and-outers.
Speak out for justice!
Stand up for the poor and destitute!”  (MSG)

By being open about your story, you can help other people!  Sharing your story in any capacity can let people know that they aren’t alone.  There are so many victims who don’t understand their pain & your story can help them.  There also are those who don’t know anything but abuse, & when they hear your similar story to theirs, their eyes open.  Suddenly they see how wrong the things that were done to them were.  Your story can give them the courage to walk away.

If you speak openly & without shame about your awful experiences, you can do more good than you realize.  You can help people in so many ways by doing nothing more than talking.

And, if you think this is only about other people, you’re wrong.  By being willing to discuss your own experiences, you can help yourself as well.

Do you know anything about the legends of vampires?  I read quite a bit about them when I was a kid.  I learned that vampires were very powerful, supernaturally powerful in fact, unless they were exposed to the sunlight.  The sun would utterly destroy  these impossibly strong, immortal beings by turning them into dust.  That same principle applies to issues stemming from abuse.  So long as they remain in the dark, in other words, they aren’t discussed, are ignored or hidden, they have a great deal of power.  They control your life.  Once you discuss them however, they lose that power like a vampire in the sunlight.  Discussing your issues helps to release you from their hold over you somehow.  It’s incredibly healing to be open about abusive experiences.

In my younger days, even though I knew something was very wrong, I still didn’t want to discuss the abusive situations I experienced.  I felt like if I did so, I was betraying my abusive parents & ex husband.  It seemed wrong to do anything other than hide what they did to me.  Not that they told me I shouldn’t tell anyone what they were doing, but it was as if it was some unwritten rule that I shouldn’t tell anyone what they did.  Many victims of abuse feel much the same as I did, that they shouldn’t “tattle” on their abuser.

I want to tell you today that this thinking is wrong.  This is your story too, not only that of the abuser!  You have every right to share as much or as little as you want to.  Abusers aren’t the only ones who can talk about whatever they want!  You have that right as well!

I do want you to know that if you opt to discuss your experiences freely either verbally or in writing, you need to be aware of the laws against libel & slander in your state.  While you are free to discuss your situation, you also need to use wisdom when it comes to protecting yourself in any capacity from your abuser.  Even with these limitations in place, you can say an awful lot, & help many people!  I wish you the best in doing so!  xoxo

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Judging Victims For Tolerating Abuse

I’ve noticed so many people are quick to judge victims of abuse for tolerating abuse. The nature of the relationship doesn’t seem to matter, the same things are said to victims.  These judgmental people say things like, “Well *I* certainly wouldn’t have put up with being treated like that!”, “Just go no contact!” or, “Why didn’t you leave sooner?”

This post is for those people who are quick to judge, & need a  lesson on the reality of what it’s like to be abused.

Unless a person has been subjected to the effects of daily, intense gaslighting, they truly don’t know what they would do in that situation, & have no right to judge a situation they can’t understand.

Abusers use gaslighting to convince their victims that they can’t make it in life without their abuser.  Abusers convince their victims that they are so stupid & incapable that they need the abuser to help them navigate through life.  Not even the most highly intelligent people are immune to this.

They also convince their victims that no one cares about them other than the abuser.  People only talk to them because they are trying to be nice, not because they really care, abusers say.  They also create doubts in victims’ minds about their loved ones by saying things like, “She isn’t really a good friend to you.”  “He doesn’t care about you yanno.”  When an abuser says such things with conviction, & a victim hears such things often enough, they believe them no matter how much evidence to the contrary they may see.

Abusers also are very good at convincing their victims that if they would try just a little harder, the abuser would threat the victim better.  Watch a young child with an abusive parent, & you will see this clearly.  The meaner the parent is, the harder the child works to please that parent.  Adults aren’t immune to this behavior though.  During my first marriage, I did this with my ex husband.  The problem with this behavior is whatever the victim does is never good enough.  Abusers are notorious for changing what they say they want, raising that bar a bit higher once the victim does what they originally said they wanted, or denying ever wanting that thing their victim just did.  A person unaware of this manipulative & abusive behavior will keep trying to please their abuser, which leads to utter frustration in the victim & satisfaction in the abuser for having such control over the victim.

There’s also the fact that most people don’t want to end relationships with those closest to them, & abusers are usually those closest to the victim.  Deciding to end a romantic relationship is a big deal, especially when abuse is involved because the victim is going to feel like a failure or stupid for falling for someone abusive.  If the abusive relationship is a parent/child relationship, that is incredibly hard to end too.  Who can feel completely comfortable telling their parents they never want to see them again?!

Lastly, many abusers prevent their victims from leaving.  They often take the victim’s money & ruin that person’s credit, making it impossible for the victim to leave.  They make the victim completely financially dependent on them.  They threaten to take the couple’s kids away so the victim never will see them again.  Some have been known to lock their victims in their home, making them a prisoner.  And, still others threaten to kill either the victim, their pets, their children, their friends or family if the victim leaves.

After considering all of this.. can you honestly still wonder why victims tolerated the abuse as long as they did?

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How Narcissists Handle Health Crises

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The Apologetic Narcissist

Narcissists almost never offer a real apology.  Sure, they may say the words, “I’m sorry” sometimes, but the words are often followed up by words &/or actions that prove this apology isn’t genuine.  Sometimes however, they can be quite convincing that this time, the apology is real.  This post is to help you spot the signs of a fake narcissistic apology.

The fake apologies are most likely to flow freely after ending a relationship with a narcissist.  They may even say the right things like, “I’ve changed”, “I know I did some bad things,” or even, “I’ll get therapy”.  The words can be very believable.  Naturally, you will want to believe them too.  No one wants to accept that there are people out there capable of the cruelty that narcissists commit on a daily basis.

The problem with such apologies is if you give the narcissist a bit of time after the first apology, some cracks will start to show.  Instead of, “I’ve changed,” they may say things like, “I’ve changed but I need you to do some changing too.”  They also may add a “but” to their apology.  “I’m sorry I did that to you, but you really made me angry!”  Suddenly their willingness to go to therapy either turns into a willingness to go to couples therapy rather than individual, or they claim they never said they would go to therapy in the first place.

At this point, many victims are sucked in by the first, more sincere sounding apology.  They make excuses for the narcissist’s sudden changes.  They blame themselves for making the narcissist do the terrible things they did or even their lack of patience & understanding with the narcissist.  They also think maybe the narcissist is right, & they never promised they would go to therapy.

If the victim continues with this train of thought, resuming the relationship with the narcissist is very likely.  In the beginning the victim will be glad they did this, because everything will be good.  The narcissist won’t be so cruel, but instead will be kind, understanding, even gentle.  This “honeymoon” period lulls victims into a false sense of security.  They believe the narcissist has really changed this time.  They  believe the narcissist meant what they said, & the relationship is going to be ok.

Little by little though, the narcissist begins to resume his or her old ways.  It probably will start out as subtle criticisms or attempts at control or manipulation.  These won’t happen as often as they once did, which makes it easy for a victim to brush them off.

As time passes, however, the narcissist gradually returns to his or her old ways, & most likely adds some new tricks to the repertoire.  The victim ends up shocked one day when reality sets in, & they see that the narcissist never changed at all.

This scenario almost always happens, no matter the nature of the relationship with a narcissist.  You mostly hear about it in the context of romantic relationships, but it also happens with friendships or parent/child relationships.

Don’t let this happen to you!!  If you have ended a relationship with a narcissist, refrain from having any contact with that person at all.  If you must, keep your contact minimal while showing no emotions.  If you can have someone act as a mediator between you both, all the better.

Any contact you do have with the narcissist gives him or her the chance to “apologize” & attempt to lure you back.  Don’t fall for it!  If he or she doesn’t accept responsibility for the behavior & ask how to make things right, or if he or she demands you believe or trust them, those are signs the apology isn’t sincere.  If you resume the relationship at this point, you’ll be as miserable if not more miserable than you were before.  Don’t let that happen.  Walk away & take care of yourself.

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Misusing Christianity For Abusive Purposes

So many people I have spoken with were abused under the guise of Christianity.  Parents abuse their children because they think Proverbs 13:24 basically saying,  “Spare the rod, spoil the child” means parents have the right to beat their children.  They are also often the same parents who claim their children aren’t honoring them by refusing to tolerate their abuse.  There are also husbands who demand blind obedience from their wives because Ephesians 5:22 says wives should submit to their husbands.  There are even those active in their church who abuse other church members.  Some sexually abuse children, others ostracize other members for not fitting their ideal of what they should be & more.

There are so many things wrong with such situations!!

Personally I believe that as wrong as abuse is, when it is done using God as a justification or as a way to lure victims in, that somehow makes the abuse even worse.  The person in this situation not only has the fallout of the abuse to deal with, but also is going to have a lot of spiritual damage as well.  They may believe God doesn’t care about them or maybe that He simply doesn’t exist at all because what happened to them was so horrific.  I felt the same way.  My mother went through a phase when I was a teenager of telling me that she knew she was going to Heaven when she died because she was such a good person.  I, however, was terrible to her so I was destined for Hell.  I thought no God could exist & let me go through what I was going through, but if He did, I clearly wanted no part of Him if that was truly how He was.

Also, it seems to me when people twist Scripture around, if you look at the Bible, somewhere there is at least one nearby verse that clearly proves their interpretation is wrong.  Look at Ephesians 5:22 for a second.  Yes, it does say that wives should submit to their husbands.  It also says in the verse immediately before that a couple should submit to each other.  It clearly isn’t one sided, but you won’t hear an abusive husband mention Ephesians 5:21.  The same goes for abusive parents who claim their children aren’t honoring them.  The Bible also mentions in Ephesians 6:4 & Colossians 3:21 that parents shouldn’t provoke their children.

Truly toxic, abusive, narcissistic people will use the Bible or the label of “Christian” to justify their wicked behavior.  To combat this, you have to know the Bible at least a bit.  Nowhere in there does it justify any form of abuse!  If you have any doubts, do your research with a good concordance or the internet.  It won’t take you long to see how wrong the abuser is.

People also claim they are Christian to be underestimated, so people will feel safe with them or if they’re on the fence about something, they will think it’s OK because this person said they’re a Christian.  Most people hear someone say they’re a Christian & somehow think those people are impervious to mistakes or bad behavior.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  EVERYONE makes mistakes for one thing.  If we didn’t, we wouldn’t need Jesus.  And for another thing, no true believer is going to be deliberately abusive towards someone else.

Rather than take someone on their word, observe a person’s behavior.  Any true Christian’s behavior should show that they are doing their best to live a good, Godly life.  Sure, they make mistakes, but they quickly try to fix them.  If they hurt someone, it isn’t done intentionally, they are fast to apologize & change their behavior so it never happens again.

There are plenty of wolves in sheep’s clothing out there, looking for innocent victims.  Remembering the points in this article can help you to avoid them.

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Traits Of Unsafe People

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Victim Shaming Comments

Victim shaming is a big problem in society these days.  It happens when someone says something that makes a victim feel shame for whatever abuse was perpetrated against them or makes the victim feel to blame for what happened.

Some statements are especially common, & those will be addressed in this post.

“I know someone who had that happen to them, but it was way worse.”  Trauma isn’t a contest.  Trauma hurts, period, & there is no reason to compare one person’s traumatic experience to another’s.  This sort of statement does nothing good.  It only minimizes & invalidates the victim’s pain.

“Your abuser has had a rough life!  You should help him/her.”  A history of being abused or through trauma is NOT an excuse to abuse other people.  Yes, people who have been abused & traumatized don’t always act like functional people.  However, the vast majority also aren’t abusive.  I think this is because they know how badly it hurts to be abused, & they won’t want to inflict that kind of pain on others.

“You know what the problem is?  You weren’t nice enough.  You didn’t kill him/her with kindness.”  Killing someone with kindness can help in some situations.  It can help a person see that their behavior is wrong.  They feel convicted & change.  When dealing with a narcissist or other personality disordered individual though?  Being overly kind is seen as a green light to abuse & take advantage of a victim more & more.

“I don’t know why you two just couldn’t get along.”  This phrase puts the blame for the abuse on both people in the relationship, which makes a victim feel at least partly responsible for the abuser’s behavior.  This is totally unfair!  The only person responsible for the abuser’s behavior is the abuser, period, end of story!

“Stop being a victim!”  While this may sound empowering at first, it’s also a way to stop a victim from discussing their experience & try to get the victim to get over their experience.  There is absolutely no shame in being the victim of abuse.  None!  There is also no shame in the fact it takes time to heal from abuse.  In many cases, it takes a lifetime.  That doesn’t make a person weak or a failure!

“You need to forgive/let this go.  You’ve been holding onto this for too long!”  I am a huge proponent of forgiveness.  Holding onto anger isn’t good for your physical or mental health.  That being said, you can’t let go of all anger just because someone tells you to!  Doing so is a process.  I firmly believe in forgiving immediately in the sense you don’t expect your abuser to try to make it up to you for what they have done.  In that sense, it’s easy to forgive because you know an abuser can’t truly make everything ok for what they have done.  Letting go of your anger, however, isn’t so easy.  That takes a lot of time & actually feeling the anger  as a way to get it out of you.  There is no time limit on that.

“That happened in the past.. why are you still holding onto this?”  This statement is beyond foolish.  When something extreme happens to a person, either good or bad, they can’t just “shake it off”!  Not to mention, when a person is traumatized, there is an excellent chance of that person developing PTSD or C-PTSD if the trauma is ongoing.  A hallmark of both disorders is not being able to let go of trauma, because it returns often as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks & nightmares.

When people say statements like these to you (& they will at some point), please remember, these statements are not about you.  They are about someone who truly has no concept of surviving abuse & trauma in a healthy way.  That person may have been through abuse too, but lacks the strength to face their pain.  If they can make others not face theirs as well, it makes them feel more normal.

Many people also like to pretend that there is no ugliness in the world.  If they can stop you from discussing your traumatic experiences, they can resume thinking that the world is a happy place at all times.

Rarely when people are insensitive & invalidating is the behavior about the person on the receiving end of their comments, but instead is about the person saying such things.  If you can remember that, it will help you not to be devastated by their cruel comments.

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What Does A Narcissist Mean When They Say, “My Sources Say You Did That”?

One of the most infuriating things I dealt with at the hands of my narcissistic mother when her abuse was at its worst was when she’d say, “My sources say you were seen doing *fill in the blank* today.”  Or, “I was told that you did *fill in the blank*.”  I would ask her who said these things & she would tell me it wasn’t my business, it didn’t matter or it wasn’t important.

It made me feel so paranoid, angry & even betrayed.  Paranoid because I wondered who would tell my mother these things that I hadn’t even done.  Angry that someone would tell her things I hadn’t done & she would believe I was capable of such things.  Betrayed because clearly this person knew me.. what if this was a close friend of mine?  My friends at the time knew about much of the abuse… how could any of them lie to my abuser knowing what happened when she was angry with me?!

Thankfully my mother stopped this after I moved out.  I honestly thought I was over it, too.  That is, until the spring of 2009, when one of my cousins & I had a falling out.  She had invited my husband & I for Christmas a couple of months prior, & I declined.  Apparently some time after, she learned that we took my parents to visit my father’s sister about a couple of weeks before Christmas & assumed that meant I spent Christmas with our aunt.  I explained that wasn’t the case at all, I wouldn’t do that to her.  Her response?  “Why are you lying to me?  My sources told me you spent Christmas with her.”  That was a big trigger for me.  All the old anger I’d felt at my mother came flooding back to the surface.  Apparently I wasn’t over it, & with good reason.

So many narcissists use this type of manipulation.  They accuse their victims of outrageous behavior, & say “my sources said you did it” or, “I was told you were seen doing that.”  When you try to find out who their mysterious sources are, they say it doesn’t matter, it’s not your business or you don’t need to know.  If you’ve been in this position, you know just how infuriating it is.  It’s bad enough being accused of something awful you didn’t do, but not to know who is saying you’ve done this makes it even worse.

You know something though?  The reason they refuse to divulge their “source” is because that person doesn’t even exist!  The accusations came from the narcissist’s warped mind, not another person.  The reason the narcissist is saying they were told you did this thing is to make you insecure, to make you think others are talking about you & ultimately to gain control over you.  It can make you feel as if everyone is against you, & no one would believe you if you tell the truth about the abuse.  I certainly felt that way with my mother.  It makes you lose hope & afraid of disappointing people close to you.  If the narcissist is especially good at this, you may come to believe that you did what the narcissist said you did.  This makes you easy for the narcissist to control.

If you end up in this position with a narcissist, remember what they are doing.  They don’t have “sources”.  They are simply making up lies in order to gain control over you.  Don’t get caught up in defending yourself to them, because they’ll only use that to prove how mentally unbalanced you are.  And question everything they say.  Even say something like, “Really?  What did I do then?!  I want to know!”  If a narcissist wants to act so foolish, then they deserve to be called out on their behavior & to know you know they’re lying.

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For Those Who Lack Joy Around Holidays & Birthdays

I truly dislike holidays & birthdays, & have felt this way for years.  The reason I feel this way is also the reason for so much negativity in my life.  It boils down to narcissistic behavior.

For all of my adult life, I’ve had demanding in-laws, both past & present, who expected my husband & I to do only as they wanted on holidays with no concern to anyone’s wishes beyond theirs.  In fact, my current in-laws claimed almost all holidays before they died, not only Thanksgiving & Christmas, but also Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, etc.  I’ve also had husbands who felt they must obey their demanding parents no matter what I felt.  My birthday also has been ruined by narcissists more times than it hasn’t been.  This all has ruined the joy I once felt about holidays.  Seems quite understandable to me that I dislike special days now, but many people can’t seem to grasp this.  In fact, many have been very critical of me for my feelings.

I thought I should write this for those of you who share similar experiences &/or feelings about special days.

You need to understand that if you feel as I do, your feelings are reasonable & valid.  They are there for a reason, so don’t discount them.  I know, most people can’t stand to learn a person doesn’t look forward to special days with a sense of glee, but they don’t understand that sometimes things happen.  Sometimes one truly severe or traumatic thing can happen that instantly destroys your fondness of these days, such as the death of a loved one close to or on a holiday.  How could anyone look forward to a holiday again when it’s a reminder of one of life’s most painful experiences?

Other times, you experience the same special day misery over & over again every single year.  Maybe you’re forced to spend the day with someone who abused you.  You know it’s not going to be pleasant to put it mildly.  There is no way you’re going to happily anticipate holidays knowing what unpleasantness is coming your way.

Even if you haven’t experienced something awful around the holidays, you may have a family that only comes together on holidays, & the phoniness of it bothers you.  That is one thing that rubs me very wrong about many holiday get togethers.  If this group of people only sees each other on a holiday, why are they seeing each other at all?  Why don’t they call each other or hang out together other times?  To me, that feels incredibly fake, & it gets under my skin badly.  I want no part of such get togethers because of the phoniness of it all.

Whatever your story, it’s ok to feel as you do.  Accept that about yourself without judgment.  If you’re struggling to do so, then imagine your closest friend came to you sharing their story which is yours.  What would you tell that friend?  Would you shame him or her for feeling that way or would you tell your friend you understand?  Tell yourself whatever you would tell that friend.

Try to deal with your feelings however works best for you.  Pray, journal, talk to someone safe & non judgmental.  Talking through this helps a great deal to release so much pain inside you.  Writing does, too, & it also can help to bring clarity to your situation & validate you.

I’m not going to tell you that you need to try to change your feelings & learn to love the holidays.  That is up to you if you want to try to do that.  I did, but it felt fake to me which is something I just can’t tolerate in myself.  But, maybe it’ll work for you.  If so, create new traditions just for yourself,  Spend the day with special friends.  Or, if you spend the day alone, make it a day just for you by doing something you thoroughly enjoy such as reading, watching good movies or going to a park.

I truly wish you the best in your situation!  It’s not easy feeling like a holiday villain in a society that demands everyone enjoy the holidays.  xoxo

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Ongoing Problems As You Heal

When you are healing from narcissistic abuse, it can be incredibly discouraging.  It sometimes seems like no matter what you do, you still have problems that you cannot fix, which can be incredibly frustrating!

Recently, my husband turned a movie on tv whose subject matter was football.  This is not good for me.  When I was growing up, my father was utterly obsessed with football.  He was so obsessed that his normally civil demeanor turned into something resembling a screaming demon if a game was on.  If my mother or I walked into the room, he would yell at us about making too much noise.  If I wanted his attention, I had to sit still & quiet until there was a break in the game.

As a result, I absolutely hate football.  It stirs up memories of feeling less valuable than a leather bag of air & a bunch of guys playing an over-glorified game of fetch.  Just hearing the sounds of a football game makes me angry.

I am in my late forties as I write this.  I have tried to let this go.  I have tried forgiving my father for his jerk-like behavior surrounding this game, & I think I have.  I also understand it is simply the result of some very dysfunctional behavior of my father’s more than a reflection on me.  Yet in spite of it all, football sounds still make me angry.

This has been incredibly discouraging to me!  I have healed from so much of the abuse I have experienced.  So why is this still a problem??

One day several years ago, God showed me this verse….

Philippians 1:6 in the Amplified Bible says,

“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].”

Suddenly everything clicked…

On this healing journey, there are going to be issues we do not heal from in this lifetime.  God will work with us & on us.  He will continue to improve us & heal us.  Yet, even so, some things are going to be an issue for as long as we live.

When this happens, Dear Reader, know it does NOT mean something is wrong with you.  It simply means you are normal.  It can be incredibly frustrating I know, but at least it does not mean you are doing something wrong, or are broken beyond repair.  It just means you are a normal human being!

Rather than be upset about this, why not do what you can to accept this as a simple shortcoming & rely on God to help you get through?    Remember, Psalm 23:4 says,

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

The valley of the shadow of death is never pleasant of course, but even so, you can get through it.  In my experience, it is those trips through that awful valley that brought me closer to God.  Also sharing my ongoing issues like this often mean someone who reads my story also can relate & is comforted by knowing someone else understands their struggles. This means something good can come from those dark times!  That pain has a purpose!  As bad & painful as the bad times are, it truly helps when you know that something good can come from them & your pain was not in vain.  If you have trouble understanding what the purpose is, ask God to show you, to help you see the purpose.  He truly will not disappoint you!

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Disproportionate Anger In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

I recently read an article about something called gunnysacking.  Turns out, that is the term for having a disproportionate reaction to someone due to having held in anger for too long.

I’ve experienced this many times, & I believe it’s a common abuse tactic of narcissists.  They push your buttons & somehow let you know that you aren’t allowed to confront them on their bad behavior.  Eventually they say something that is far from the worst thing they’ve ever said yet you lose your temper.  They enjoy this because it proves to them how irrational, crazy, etc. you are.  It also leaves you wondering if the narcissist may just be right about you being irrational or crazy.

The best example I can give of gunnysacking in my life happened in 2016.  At the time, I wanted to go no contact with my parents, but the timing felt wrong somehow.  I maintained the relationship only because I trust my instincts.  When my mother in-law died that April, a few days later, I saw my parents’ number on my caller ID.  They just saw her obituary in the local paper & were angry I hadn’t told them she died.  They were worried what my in-laws would think of them for not being at the funeral.  My parents knew I hadn’t spoken to any of my in-laws in 14 years at this time.  They also only spoke to them maybe 3 times in the 22 years my husband  & I had been together.  I felt betrayed that my parents showed such loyalty to people who they knew mistreated me.  They couldn’t understand why I felt that way., & I was furious.  That was the last time I spoke to my mother, & one of the last times I spoke to my father.

This was hardly the first time my parents showed they cared more for someone else than me.  It also wasn’t the worst thing they had done.  Years of stifling my anger just reached a boiling point in that conversation.  The anger just gushed out even though it wasn’t proportionate to the situation.

I believe there is another variation on gunnysacking, too.  When you have a relationship with a narcissist, yet rather than blow up at the narcissist, you blow up to your spouse, friend, sibling, etc.  This is a bonus for a narcissist because it proves that they have control over you & also causes you problems in another relationship.

Unfortunately I have done this too.  I would speak to my parents, then after the visit, when I’d see my husband, I’d snap at him over nothing.  I was angry with my parents, & unable to hold it in any longer by the time I saw him.  (Yes, I apologized when this happened since it wasn’t fair to him.)

Gunnysacking may feel good at the moment since you’re finally getting those emotions out, but it isn’t healthy.  When you are overwhelmed with emotions, you can’t think clearly.  Negative emotions that overwhelm can trigger survival instincts to kick in & that means rational thought is put aside.  Stress levels are raised & that is certainly unhealthy for your body.  Not to mention, attacking someone disproportionately can damage your relationship.  No one wants to be treated badly but in particular when they haven’t done anything wrong.  Also, in a relationship with a narcissist, as I mentioned earlier, they’ll use gunnysacking to prove how awful you are to yourself & others.  They love to say things like, “She just started yelling at me out of the blue.”  “I don’t know what set him off.  We were talking then suddenly he was screaming.”

To avoid gunnysacking, it’s best to deal with your anger as it comes up.  Since confronting narcissists rarely helps, find other ways to process your anger.  Write in a journal, talk to a friend, draw or even pray.  God can handle your anger & help you get through it.

And lastly, never forget, there is nothing wrong with feeling anger, especially when you’re abused by a narcissist.  Everyone does sometimes, & even Jesus got angry.  It’s perfectly normal.  It’s when others are hurt by your anger that it becomes a problem.

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Understanding Narcissistic Behavior

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Minimizing Your Abusive Experiences

Those of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse, in particular at the hand of our parents, tend to share many characteristics.  One of them is the inclination to minimize any & all traumatic experiences, whether or not they had anything to do with the original abuser.

Some indicators that you are doing this is if you say things like:

  • “It wasn’t that bad.. at least he didn’t hit me.” after leaving a relationship with someone who was verbally abusive.
  • “Yea, that person held a knife to my throat but all he did was take my wallet…”
  • “I know my parents did some bad stuff to me but others have it way worse than I did.”

See the common thread in these statements?  Each one minimizes something very traumatic.

Another way people do this is to use the words “just” or “only” often.  Think of statements like, “It was just verbal abuse” or “He only hit me the one time.”

I realized some time ago that I have done this same thing.  What got my attention was watching a tv show about a serial killer, believe it or not.  The killer’s ex wife was interviewed, & many things she said that he said as well as some of his behavior that she described reminded me a great deal of my ex husband!  No, he’s no serial killer, but to realize he shared some behavior & personality traits with one was a big wake up call to me.  It showed me that in spite of what most people said, that marriage truly was bad!  His behavior really was abusive, & he had some serious mental health issues.  Yet, when I discussed that marriage, I often downplayed the abuse.  Realizing all of this showed me how unhealthily I’ve behaved, & also how many other people do exactly the same thing.

Minimizing one’s trauma is a terribly unhealthy thing to do!  It contributes to a root of shame, & toxic shame affects every area of your life.  Toxic shame makes you feel unworthy in every possible area of your life.  It’ll make you willing to settle for the job you hate because you don’t think you’re qualified to do a better job you would enjoy.  It’ll make you settle for a romantic partner who isn’t good for you since you believe you wouldn’t be attractive to someone better.  The same goes for friendships.  Someone with toxic shame will settle for friends who mistreat you because you don’t believe you deserve a better caliber of friends.

Minimizing also gives other people the message that what you went through wasn’t so bad.  This can lead to people having no compassion for you or others who have experienced abuse.  Since you act like it’s not a big deal, they will assume it isn’t.  It also can send the wrong message to others in similar situations.  They may think that since you don’t see the abuse as bad, maybe they’re overreacting to their situation.  Of course, this will lead to toxic shame & all of the problems that go along with it.

Dear Reader, I want to encourage you today.  Listen to yourself.  Do you minimize your traumatic experiences?  Do you use “just” or “only” often?  If so, STOP!  Trauma is trauma, no matter if someone else had it worse than you.  Don’t minimize your suffering!  Acknowledge it for what it is so you can heal.  Minimizing only causes problems!

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Irritable Gratitude Syndrome

I recently read an article about Traumatic Brain Injuries that mentioned the term Irritable Gratitude Syndrome.  This phenomenon happens to many who have survived a TBI.  People often tell these survivors how lucky they are to still be alive, it could have ended so much worse or be happy you don’t have it as bad as someone else does.  Many caregivers or survivors at this point want to scream, & rightfully so!!  Such comments can stir up some pretty angry thoughts & feelings that are quite justified.

Yes, it’s great the person is still here, but it’s not so great that he or she has lost their personality, has constant headaches, struggles to comprehend even the simplest things & forgets so much.  Many unaffected by TBIs have zero idea just how awful these things are to live with either in yourself or someone you love.

Ok, true, the situation could’ve ended worse than it did, but even so, that doesn’t mean it ended well!  It can be very hard to be grateful to be alive when you’re struggling with the awful day to day symptoms of a TBI or watching someone you love struggle with said symptoms.

And yes, others have it worse.  That doesn’t negate the fact that all TBIs are unique, they all host at least some pretty challenging symptoms & they all are very disruptive to a person’s life.  As someone with a brain injury, I can tell you that knowing someone else has it worse than me doesn’t make mine any less obnoxious to live with.

As I was reading the article & considering such things I realized something…  I really don’t think Irritable Gratitude Syndrome is only for those with brain injuries.  I also think it can be common to those of us who have survived narcissistic abuse.

Think about it… how many times have you been told that you should be glad your situation wasn’t worse, at least he didn’t hit you or everyone has problems with their parents?  That’s kind of similar to the comments TBI survivors often hear, & they also stir up similar emotions & thoughts to what I described above.

How can you be glad your situation wasn’t worse when you struggle with C-PTSD from the narcissistic abuse?  Living with the symptoms of C-PTSD is miserable & incredibly difficult.

Maybe that abusive ex didn’t hit you but he didn’t need to hit to hurt you.  Narcissists destroy their victims on the inside, not the outside, but doing their best to ruin their sense of self.

While it’s true, everyone has problems with their parents at some point, that doesn’t mean all parents are the abusive monsters narcissists are.  There is a big difference between normal disagreements & narcissistic parents determined to destroy their own children.  Saying they are the same only trivializes narcissistic abuse & invalidates victims.

I think there are some things to do that can help you when experiencing such thoughts & feelings.

  • Pray.  Tell God what you think & feel.  Let it all out!  He can handle your anger & sadness.
  • Write it out in a journal.
  • Talk to someone who is non judgmental, safe & understanding of your situation.
  • If you don’t feel like talking or writing, then get alone & cry, scream, beat up some pillows or whatever helps you feel better.
  • I know this one is very hard but try to be patient with yourself.  You’ve been through a lot!  It’s ok to feel badly about that!
  • Rest when you need to.  Emotional things take a big physical toll.  Give your body extra rest.

I know that when Irritable Gratitude shows up, it’s not pleasant.  Quite the opposite in fact.  But you can & will get through it!

In case you are wondering, this is the article I was referring to:  https://www.brainline.org/blog/learning-accident/irritable-gratitude-syndrome

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One Way Abuse Victims Process Emotions

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge true crime buff.  Pretty sure my poor husband is sick of it since when I turn the TV on, that’s usually what I end up watching.

I’ve also never been a big fan of stories with happy endings.  If it suits the story, that’s fine but if it seems forced, I’m not a fan of that.  I prefer real endings, even if they aren’t happy ones.

Growing up, my mother always said how negative & pessimistic I was.  She made me feel abnormal for liking such “negative” things instead light, fluffy things like she did.  I assumed she was right & something was wrong with me.  Yet, nothing changed even into adulthood.  I still dislike fluffy stories.

I finally came to a realization about my so called negativity, & I think it may help some of you as well.

So many people I’ve spoken to who were raised by narcissistic parents also dislike light, fluffy stories.  They prefer something real even if it is sad.  Many also share my interest in true crime.

Many who were abused by narcissistic parents also share some similarities.  We often are introverts, very down to earth & interested in the deeper things in life over the superficial, in particular what makes people tick.  Knowing these traits, it only makes sense that we prefer what we do.

Another thing I realized is these things allow us to feel the emotions we never were allowed to feel growing up.  Narcissistic parents deny their children the right to have emotions, in particular anger or hurt over the abuse.  This often carries into adulthood.  We grow up not comfortable showing or sharing certain emotions, & aren’t sure how to deal with them.  Feeling anything about the abuse perpetrated on us by our own parents is especially not OK, so those emotions are ignored.  Since those emotions aren’t felt, they need an outlet.  Watching sad movies or true crime, reading sad or unjust stories or even listening to sad songs provides that outlet.  They enable you to feel the sadness or anger without feeling it as it relates to the abuse.

Something else narcissistic parents can’t tolerate is their child feeling sorry for themselves.  This, too, carries into adulthood, & many struggle with feeling compassion for ourselves because of that dysfunctional teaching.  Being able to feel the emotions because of songs, stories or whatever also help you to feel them while not feeling sorry for yourself.  If you watch a story of a young woman who was abused & murdered by her parents, as an adult woman who was abused by her parents, you’re going to be able to relate to her story.  Your heart will go out to her, & you’ll feel pity, sadness, anger at the injustice.  You should be feeling such emotions for yourself, but can’t.  Instead it’s redirected.

If you realize that you too behave in this manner, all hope isn’t lost!  At least you’re feeling the emotions you need to.  That is good.  Emotions demand to be felt, so if you don’t feel them in a healthy way, they will find another outlet.  This outlet isn’t as destructive as it could be, so that is a definite plus.

Some people think about themselves as a child.. if that child was in front of you, what would you tell him or her now?  Wouldn’t you want that child to be open about their feelings & heal?  If it helps, talk to that child.  Write letters to him or her.  It may help you tremendously.

Most of all, never ever forget to talk to God.  He truly understands even when we don’t.  He wants to help & comfort you, so why not let Him?

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Lies Victims Of Childhood Emotional Neglect Tell Themselves

When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they grow up dysfunctional in many ways.  One of those ways is they learn no healthy coping skills.  As a result, lying to themselves becomes a common way for them to cope.

Lying about what?  Anything & everything!  I remember years ago, I got my father a cell phone & my mother was angry about it.  Eventually he was tired of her complaints & got rid of it.  When she told me about it, she said she had no idea why he did that.  I could see that she was trying to convince herself of that, but she knew the real reason.  Remember, my mother’s mother was a narcissist, & extremely cruel to my mother her entire life, including neglecting her emotional health.

That is just one example, of course, but there are many other lies victims of childhood emotional neglect tell themselves.

Another lie is “I don’t matter.”  Of course you matter!  Everyone matters!  The lie stems from being raised by parents who act like you don’t matter.  It’s easier for a child to believe they don’t matter than to believe their parent is incapable of treating them as if they do matter.  Any problem in a relationship between a child & his parents usually means the child assume he is to blame.

“I’m not good enough” is another lie stemming from childhood emotional neglect.  When children are treated by their parents as if they aren’t good enough, they assume it’s because something is wrong with them rather than their parents.  That, however is a big lie!

“I’m unworthy to ask for help.”  Childhood emotional neglect teaches children that they are undeserving of “bothering” others by asking for help, especially from their parents.  This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Another common lie is, “I should be happy.  I have no reason not to be happy.”  When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they very easily can become depressed, yet may not know why, even into adulthood.  They fail to realize they have been abused which is a valid reason for depression.

“I don’t need anything.”  is a common lie, too.  Of course you need something.  Every person has needs.  Sadly, being emotionally neglected in childhood trains children to believe that their wants & needs aren’t important, so they learn to ignore them.  Years of ignoring them means they aren’t in touch with their needs at all.

Another common lie is, “I’m ok.”  When someone is mistreated, it’s normal to be angry or hurt.  When the child of emotional neglect is mistreated, although they may feel some anger or hurt, they’re disconnected from their feelings enough that they may not realize that.  Or, they may recognize the anger & hurt, but believe they aren’t allowed to feel that way so they say, “I’m ok” instead.

“Anything you want is fine with me.”  When a child survives emotional neglect, they learn early on it’s easiest just to go with what their parents want so they don’t get in trouble.  After a lifetime of this, it becomes such a habit, that these children act this way with everyone about everything.

If you realize you have said these same lies, you are not alone!  Start paying attention to what you say more so you become aware of ways you lie to yourself.  Ask God to help you to help you recognize those lies.   Once you recognize the ways you’re lying to yourself, then you can deal with them.  My favorite way is to ask God to tell me the truth.  Am I right to feel as I do?  Please tell me the truth, Your truth.  He does & it really helps me to see things more clearly.  Writing about how & why I feel as I do is also helpful because seeing things in writing gives great clarity.

I wish you the best in defeating these lies & living a healthier, happier life!  xoxo

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Frequently Used Gaslighting Phrases

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No Child’s Job Is To Heal The Parent(s)

Emotional incest, covert incest, parentification & parentalizing.  All describe the same abusive behavior & a topic I’ve written about before.  When a parent treats their child as an equal rather than their child, expecting that child to listen to their woes, tales of marital discord, details of their sex life, &/or expecting their child to care for them in ways such as cooking & cleaning for them well beyond what is age appropriate, it damages the child psychologically.  The child in this situation often grows up anxious, depressed, lacking healthy relationship skills, feels guilt for things they aren’t responsible for & may even have issues with addiction.  Often at the very least, they choose very poorly suited romantic partners.

Sadly, parentalizing is barely discussed in a negative light.  Many people see a child & her parent behaving in this way & praise their “close” or “loving” relationship.  They even tell the child how lucky she is to have a mom who loves her so much, how she has to be strong for her mom or other similar comments.  And, when the child, no matter the age, does something that upsets her parent or *gasp* thinks of herself first, she is labeled unappreciative, selfish, a spoiled brat & more.  This lays even more unnecessary guilt on that child, & it is absolutely unfair!

Let’s get one thing straight.  No one is responsible for anyone else’s emotions.  Yes, someone you love can make you feel happy, sad, angry, etc. sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they are in control of your emotions.  YOU ARE!  This is especially true for children.  Children need to be children, not their parent’s emotional caregiver!

When a parent is abandoned by someone they love, & the only person close to them is their child, it can be understandable they reach out to their child for comfort & companionship.  That doesn’t make it right, though!  Children are growing up – that is enough responsibility on their little shoulders!

Children also didn’t ask to be born.  It’s not their fault if the parents couldn’t maintain a healthy & loving relationship.  Making the child feel that they must step into the role of that other parent is cruel, abusive & unfair!

If you grew up in this sort of situation, my heart goes out to you.  I am so sorry for the pain & suffering you have been through.  Having been there myself I know it is a miserable situation.

If it is still happening, you’re going to have to set some serious boundaries with your parent.  Change the subject as soon as you start to feel uncomfortable.  Tell your parent you’re leaving or hanging up the phone if she insists on talking about your other parent that way, then follow through with your threat if need be.

Whether the abuse is still happening or not, you’re going to need to heal from the damage done.  Pray.  Get angry.  Cry.  Remind yourself what was done to you was unfair & undeserved.  Write in a journal.  Talk to a trusted friend or therapist.  Do whatever helps you to heal!

You can heal from the effects of emotional incest.  It takes time & work, but it can be done.  xoxo

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Don’t Believe Everything You Hear, Especially When It Comes To Narcissists

On this day 2 years ago, my father was buried.  This time of year makes me think a LOT about that awful time surrounding my father’s death.    If you care to read about it, the story is available on my website: https://cynthiabaileyrug.com/home/the-miraculous-way-my-father-came-to-know-jesus/

In thinking about that terrible time, naturally the especially wicked people that harassed me day & night came to mind.  The blind devotion they had to my parents was utterly astounding.  One of them was a cousin who I knew cared a great deal about my father, so that wasn’t entirely unexpected.  She clearly believed he was a really great guy.  There seemed to be no room in her mind for anything that might threaten that belief.  Me not having a relationship with my father threatened her belief, so she attacked me.

So many people are like this!  It needs to stop!

I’ll grant you that narcissists are unparalleled actors which makes it easy to believe their lies & false persona.  Even so, it’s never wise to blindly accept a person as they appear.

1 John 4 states that we are to “test the spirits” of anyone proclaiming to be a prophet.  According to the verses, a true prophet truly believes that Jesus is the Messiah.

I think faith in Jesus can be a very good way to identify if someone is who they claim to be or not, but not simply by saying those words.  A true believer does their best to live their faith by being good & kind to other people, & most of all keeps God first in every area of their lives.  They aren’t hypocritical or dishonest.  They try not to hurt people but help them instead.  The cousin I mentioned above?  She claimed to be a Christian but exhibited no such behaviors.

Many non believers behave in a similar manner, minus the part about keeping God first in their lives.  These are good people, whether or not they share your faith.

Then there are narcissists.

Narcissists may claim to love Jesus or at least be good people.  They may be active in their community or feeding the hungry.  They may be teachers, police officers or even doctors.  Everything about their external appearance may look good, yet someone says this person isn’t as they appear to be.  His wife claims he’s unfaithful, is verbally, mentally, financially or sexually abusive.  Her child claims she demands perfection, nothing is ever good enough & when he fails to perform up to her standards, she rages like a lunatic.

When you’re looking at a situation from the outside, when someone makes such claims, it can be tempting to brush it off.  You’ve only seen the good parts of that person so it’s hard to believe that “good” person can be abusive.

The problem though is so called “good” people abuse others every day.  My parents looked good to outsiders.  My father worked hard, my mother volunteered at my school a great deal & they both looked like good parents.  Behind closed doors though, they weren’t the wonderful people many folks assumed they were.  There was also my ex husband.  Most folks seemed to think he was a great guy he was & I was so lucky to have him.  Yet, behind closed doors, he was abusive.

My point in all of this is if you are in the position of hearing someone claim someone you know is abusive, please listen to them & consider what they say!!  If the person is abusive, you will realize that there were some signs that they weren’t as perfect as they appear.  You will remember times when you caught them in a lie, in some unethical behavior or simply ignoring someone in need of their assistance.  No narcissist can wear their mask all of the time.  It slips sometimes, even though they do their best to hide that from everyone they can.. other than their victim.

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Manipulative Memes

I love memes.  In fact, I saved many over the years.  Some inspire me with quoting Scripture.  Others inspire because of the beautiful pictures.  And then there are ones like this one that was popular on Facebook for a while.  It said, “It is very sad when members of the same family do not talk to each other.  The children suffer for the adult ego.  Cousins miss the wonderful opportunity to be together, & all due to a bruised adult ego.  Stop getting offended.  Reunite with your family members.  One day your imaginary conflict will all come to an end…with or without you.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Type yes if you agree.”

That one about made me gag.

I will admit, there are families where someone is being a petty jerk & not speaking to other family members.  It does happen, but I don’t believe it’s all that common.

What is much more common is when someone in a family is abusive, & their victim gets fed up.  They sever ties with that abuser to protect themselves & sometimes also their spouse &  children.  The abuser & their devoted flying monkeys harass the victim, drag their name through the mud & blindly support the abuser.   Meanwhile the victim is left behind in a state of shock & deeply hurt by the betrayal of not only the abuser but the family members who once said they loved the victim.  I guess that truth doesn’t make such a “nice”, wholesome sounding meme though, does it?

If I sound angry about this, it’s because I am.  Not only for myself since I have been in this position but for the countless others who have been as well.

It’s not right to abuse someone in the first place.  There is no reason to abuse anyone.  The only thing that makes this even worse is when people know about the abuse, but treat the abuser with kindness & the victim with disdain.  Treating someone who has the courage to open up about being abused is one of the cruelest things a person can do to another in my opinion.  It takes a lot of courage to go against the abuser’s wishes in any way, especially their desire to keep their acts secret, because once it’s out, you can’t take it back.  To treat someone in this position as if they’re lying, making a big deal about nothing, acting like a spoiled brat, trivialize their feelings or experiences or claim they want to hear nothing about it is absolutely disgraceful & disgusting.  Anyone who does this should be utterly ashamed of their actions, but sadly that is rare.

People who act this way are people who are fans of the meme I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Those people obviously have issues.  Since I’m related to many of that type of person & have seen their sick behavior first hand, I think I can say that without any doubt.  Thanks to these people, I have learned a few things about this kind of person.

People who treat victims as they do often have abuse in their past.  They don’t have the guts to face that fact, so they deny it.  They put on a fake happy face & tell stories of their happy family.  Their denial runs deep so they don’t have to face the pain.  Any perceived threat to it & they attack.  This includes silencing other victims who are willing to speak out, even when those victims are their own family.

There are others who know the narcissist & refuse to believe the truth.  They believe the “nice guy/girl” act & will also attack any threat to their denial of the truth.

People like this are just as toxic as the narcissist who abused you in the first place.  And sadly, they’re out there creating memes like this & hurting & manipulating God only knows how many people who see it.  It’s utterly disgusting!  You really can’t believe everything you read, because sometimes it’s nothing more than garbage written by toxic people.

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About Coercive Control

Narcissists clearly are experts in the area of controlling.  One lesser known tactic they use is called coercive control.  It is most commonly known to happen in romantic relationships, but it also can happen in parent/child relationships.

Coercive control doesn’t always involve physical violence, yet victims wonder if they don’t obey the narcissist, will it turn violent one day?  Fear is a great weapon, & those who use coercive control are well aware of that fact.  Often without so much as touching their victim, they instill a deep fear in them.

There are other signs of coercive control that people need to be aware of abusers using.

Intimidation is a big red flag.  Towards the end of my first marriage, my ex was trying to intimidate me by punching things other than me.  After, he would tell me how lucky I was he was hitting the walls instead of me.  Other forms of intimidation can include showing weapons, blocking you from leaving the room or standing over you in a way as to make themselves look much bigger than you.

“Minor” violent acts.  I hate to use the word minor with violent acts because it sounds like it’s trivializing violence.  That isn’t my intention.  What I mean is acts like pushing, holding you in place or even pinching hard.  These are so called minor violent acts.

Using threats to control.  Threatening to leave you, to commit suicide or hurt your child or pet in order to get what they want fall into the category of coercive control.

Micromanaging a victim.  When someone controls things like how you dress or how you wash the dishes, it makes you easy to control because in time, you feel as if you must ask your partner for permission to do everything.   Some parents continue treating their adult child as if they were young children in need of their guidance well into adulthood.  This is known as infantilization.

Financial abuse.  An abusive partner will keep their mate in the relationship by destroying their credit, spending all of their paychecks or refusing them all access to the couple’s finances.

Isolation is another form of coercive control.  It’s no secret that abusers isolate their victims.  Isolation makes victims easy to control by limiting the information & support they can receive from outside sources.  Abusers may claim their victims’ friends or family aren’t good for them as one way to isolate their victims.

Sex is a very commonly used method of coercive control.  Abusers may violently rape their victims of course, but that isn’t always the case.  Many use shame, saying things like, “Any other woman in the world would do this one little thing for me…” or, “If you loved me, you would do this for me.”  They also may be very good lovers at first to get you hooked on sex with them, then in time, they suddenly lose interest in having sex with you.  When you practically beg them is when they have power over you.  They use the opportunity to tell you what they want from you that will make them regain interest in sex.

When things like this happen, it’s not easy to identify these behaviors as abusive at first.  Abusers get worse gradually, to build a victim’s tolerance to abuse.  This is probably why so many victims stay… it happened so gradually, they didn’t even realize it was happening.  By the time they did, they felt unable to escape.

If this describes you or someone you know, please get out NOW!!!  These behaviors are all signs of a potentially violent person!  Protect yourself & stay safe!  xoxo

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About False Strength

 

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When To Speak Up &When Not To Speak Up To Narcissists

A very difficult subject is when should you speak up & when shouldn’t you speak up with a narcissist.

Anyone with any experience with a narcissist knows that most of the time, it’s easiest just to stay quiet.  Speaking up can trigger a narcissistic rage or a victim act (“How can you be so mean to me!?  I was just trying to help!”).  Or, if you’re angry when you confront the narcissist, there is narcissistic supply, because he or she feels powerful because of upsetting you so much.  And, since whatever they did upset you, they know to do it again & again to keep procuring their precious supply.  This kind of nonsense can make anyone want to avoid confronting a narcissist, no matter what they do.

Yet, failing to confront a narcissist indefinitely only makes you miserable while they get away with their outrageous, abusive behavior.  Talk about a no win situation!

The best thing I have learned to know when to confront a narcissist & when not to is by maintaining a close relationship with God.  He enabled me to know when & what to say to my narcissistic parents, & when to say nothing.  Sounds simple, I know, but it’s true.

When I knew I was going to see my parents, or they would call & I’d see their number on the caller ID, I would ask God to give me the words I needed & to help me get through the conversation.  That’s it.  And it worked every time!

There were plenty of times when my parents would say something hurtful & I knew in my heart that this was not the time to speak up.  Knowing that helped me to stay quiet & pretend I didn’t notice the abusive comment.

When I did need to speak up, though, God gave me exactly the right words I needed & the courage to say them.  The last time I spoke to my mother was May 5, 2016, which was also one of the last times I spoke to my father.  As I have mentioned before in this blog, we got into a huge argument that night, first my father & I argued, then my mother & I.  I went into the conversation having a fairly good idea it wasn’t going to be pleasant, but I had no idea I’d end up telling my parents off!  God knew though!  Later when I prayed & apologized to Him for my behavior, He said, “Your parents needed to see that.  They needed to know that their actions could make their normally calm & reasonable daughter would act that way.”

That close relationship with God has been a true lifesaver for me in knowing when to confront, & when not to confront, but, I realize not everyone reading this shares my faith.  For those of you in that position, I recommend learning all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & your narcissist.  If you study this person, I would guarantee you’ll find that he or she only has a few moves in their repertoire.  Most narcissists are that way.  While most narcissists are quite intelligent, they also aren’t overly creative.  They have a few weapons that get them what they want & use them over & over.  Learning what those weapons are will help you a great deal in that you will be prepared for what they most likely will do in most any situation.  It’ll also help you to know whether or not to confront this person & what most likely will happen if you do.  Preparation is a wonderful thing!

I know the tips in this post are pretty simple, but they really can be of a great help.  I wish you the best in your situation!

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Subtle Abuse

Many people think  abuse is something loud & cruel, such as screaming obscenities at another person.  This certainly is one type of verbal abuse, but for the most part, it is much quieter & more subtle.

Ignoring someone is abusive.  It can create anxiety or avoidance when it happens enough, especially when it happens to children.  It makes someone feel insignificant or even invisible to be ignored, especially by someone important such as by a parent or spouse.

Normalizing abuse is also abusive.  Everyone needs to know that abuse is NOT ok.  When someone doesn’t know that, they tolerate abuse because they don’t know it’s wrong.  This is one reason abusers try to make their victims think the victims are the problem, rather than the abuse being the problem.

Constant criticism is abusive.  While everyone needs constructive criticism from time to time, no one needs abusive criticism, in particular when it is non stop.  The difference is constructive criticism is meant to help a person be better, while abusive criticism is meant to manipulate, control & destroy a person’s self esteem.

Failure to give someone praise & support is abusive.  While people are drastically affected by constant criticism, they also can be affected by a lack of praise & support even without the constant criticism.  My mother used to brag to me about how one time in my entire childhood, she told me she thought I was “kinda pretty.”  That along with her constant criticisms made me incredibly insecure about my looks for my entire life.

Shaming someone is abusive.  To make someone feel shame doesn’t always have to involve saying things like, “What is your problem?!”  “You need some therapy!”  It also can involve laughing at someone, rolling your eyes at them or making them the butt of jokes.  Toxic shame makes a person feel there is something wrong with every single thing about them, which destroys self esteem & makes a person easy to control.

Criticizing someone harshly claiming that it was done, “for your own good” is abusive.  My mother was hyper critical of every single thing about me when I was growing up.  Whenever I would say something about how critical she was, she told me it was for my own good.  I needed to know my faults so I could change them.  I couldn’t argue with that logic as a child.  As an adult however, although I do agree that everyone needs to be aware of their faults, they also need to be equally aware of their good qualities too.  Only being aware of their faults can destroy one’s self esteem.

Similarly, saying or doing cruel & saying it’s “tough love” is abusive.  When my mother’s abuse hit its peak, she said everything she was doing to me was tough love, because I wouldn’t learn any other way.  This made me feel like something was wrong with me, I was the problem in our relationship & I made her abuse me.  A victim in such a situation usually believes the way I did.

Last but not least, gaslighting is extremely abusive.  Gaslighting is when an abuser subtly makes a victim doubt their perceptions of reality.  It isn’t hard to gaslight children in particular, but anyone can be a victim.  An abuser doesn’t have to raise their voice to accomplish it.  All they have to do is convince their victim that what happened didn’t happen the way the victim believes it did or didn’t happen at all.  That can be accomplished easily by instilling doubt in a victim & stating the lies with extreme confidence.  An abuser may even feign concern for a victim for being so confused as to think things happened the way they did instead of the way the abuser says things happened.

Abuse comes in many different forms.  Many of those forms can be hard to recognize at first.  I hope this post will help you to be very aware of them so you don’t fall prey to an abusive person who behaves this way!

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