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Bob723 #2578297 06/14/15 09:03 PM
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Sunny,

I've heard it said that emotional abuse is a big fat grey line. We all cross. In my flags post, I recognized somr of my own behaviors in the past. Some are just unhealthy ways to deal with conflict/anger.

I am sure we can all think of an argument when we gave or received.
Not all people who do some of these things are abusers; rather they can behave in abusive ways occasionally when feeling threatened.

I used to put my STBX in the latter category until I realized this was systematic and not ignorance.

To answer your question, the difference I believe is in these points:

-behavior would be different if onlookers.

-no remorse - when non abusers cross that big fat grey line we feel awful, usually as soon as anger subsides.

-no rational prompt to outburst, inconsistent, sense they are looking for fight

-justifies, rationalizes, and may offer apology eventually if no room to maneuver anymore

-lack of personal responsibility for feelings, behavior, failings, etc. is root of most abusers. People who are comfortable with being fallible and wrong do not use toxic methods to protect themselves, systematically weaken another's sense of self

-V's point about little care for your feelings or empathy should be well taken. My H used to study psychology and could mechanically say he 'understood how xyz could make you feel that way" if I would ask him if he could understand. I had to pull some semblance of empathy out of him. After a great deal of back pedaling, twisting, word salad. An abuser will not lead with an apology or remorse or make up in any way unless they think they are about to lose something they want.

-with that said, beware of over the top apologies and gifts...a cycle of abuse and then being bought off. A safe person isnt ifyen creating situations that demand this level of 'remorse.' What is real remorse? I would say it is quiet, dignified and above all addresses the hurt done to another. It is thoughtful, not showy or full of drama.

- sense of escalation, or when one boundary is enforced a new method of control and unbalancing will manifest

- an increasing sense that no one would believe who you actually live with from what they 'know' about person

-flexible rationality especially in crazy-making psych abuse. Partner demonstrates great logic in public, situations going their way. Logic is inverted as needed for control. But you have come to see them as very wise, reasonable, loving, kind .,,so the first time this alternate reality is used, you have doubt. This isn't the same thing as someone who is upset and stuck in their point of view, either. This is a very patronizing 'don't you understand why, how...'

Toots has a great reading list too.


Mid 30's
Psych-abusive M with violent tantrums from XH
D 9/15; NC forever on

You can't DR your way out of abuse.



Zelda09 #2578304 06/14/15 09:23 PM
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Maybell,

Thinking about what you are saying with feeling contempt. Smoke or fire?

Was "shut up" the worst verbal?

I think of Gan's threads about non-violent communication, needs not being met, Rosenberg stuff. Unmet needs and resentment can cause a lot of contempt.

I know how awful contempt can feel and I can relate. It is an anger and lack of respect.

Feeling hated is not a healthy environment no matter what.

But the question may be, was your STBX expressions of contempt simply how he felt that you unfortunately perceived when it slipped out? Or did he insult/demean you with it in order to attempt to silence you or punish you?

I think you might also ask, when you feel contempt is there not an idea that you should protect someone from feeling the force of it? (I think of colleagues I simply lost respect for, who aggravated me. It did not feel appropriate that they should know of my disdain and so I tried to treat with respect and distance.)

Pouring contempt onto someone though, that is them coming into those spaces of well being that should be respected. Aggressive displays of contempt tell a person how little regarded they are. And that is their design, to make one feel small and deserving of disdain. It goes back to a point about remorse - non-abusers feel badly when they hurt others and know full well when they do.

Last edited by Zelda09; 06/14/15 09:24 PM.

Mid 30's
Psych-abusive M with violent tantrums from XH
D 9/15; NC forever on

You can't DR your way out of abuse.



Zelda09 #2578312 06/14/15 10:28 PM
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To my list of flags, I would also offer some examples from my personal experiences.

Overt (father)

Some of the nastiest, most violent things you can imagine. At 13, I had a shotgun fired at me. But I remember seeing my mother in tears as a little kid, a scene that repeated itself too often, having been kicked, punched...her screaming like a mad woman ..and when I'd walk into the room he would sit calmly and explain to me how unbalanced she was. How he had to unfortunately treat her that way. How her PMS made her crazy. Made him crazy. It was all very creepy how he could go from ferocious to Freud instantly. Would even sound sympathetic to her after extreme harm minutes earlier. And sometimes he didn't bother with that act if he didn't feel like it. And he was big on big gifts when the next day the house was undeniably in ruins. Once in a while would actually get disgusted enough with himself to promise change. He was well respected around town and a great provider, inventor, successful business owner. Out of his mInd drunk each night, successful charismatic by day. first time she left him he promised counseling. When she came back he threatened her within an inch of her life if she ever embarrassed him again. What about counseling? And the response, "you aren't so stupid to think I meant it?" The sad thing was they worked together very well by day, quite a lot of evidence of mutual respect and admirationof each other's efforts in building the business.

Covert (H)

He had a unique brand. The first year there was a overt physical incident and I broke it off immediately. "Z, I am glad you have these boundaries." And we got back together and then it was random insults about how I was a slut. Later, he attributed to how insecure he was, "yes, Z, inappropriate I am sorry. You are just such a powerful and free person I'm intimidated" later, outright nasty verbal abuse. But here the pattern changes. No apologies cuz I am in deep love. After boundary enforcement convo, yes I understand, I can respect. We must have had to revisit that ten times and the insults ceased being foul and became simple name calling. I had to explain that throwing things and punching things around me were acts of intimidation. No, it did not matter that it was a basket of laundry and was too light to actually hurt me, H. It is the action demonstrating you are dangerous! Oh, the twisting. "Z, it is important how we got here, can you not see that?" Finally...finally, he might acquiesce in the face of enough evidence that his behavior was abusive and no, nothing I did caused it. Ok. After enough trust had been built, we were engaged. It seemed Id succeeded, his damaging behaviors disappeared, boundaries are respected! No.

In calm discussions..."z, obviously you are unhappy. We should not be together anymore." And of course I'd protest. "You are just a miserable person." This, with reasonable and assertive requests. Did I dare be disappointed and try express to him why? "Z, can you not see the anger seeping out of you? You need counseling." Or I would try to explain hurt feelings. "Z, you are lying to yourself. What is your real agenda here?" If he picked up on annoyance- "aRE you in a bad mood! How do you ferl right now Z, do you even know?" (said growling) if I did not say fine (or even if I did) he would repeat that louder and louder until screaming at me. I found myself afraid to answer with a certain tone of voice he'd get. In trying to talk about fights - "z, how many people do we know? Wouldn't you say they'd all consider you pretty forceful, domineering? I am considered gentle. Are you really sure this happened the way you said?" Then there were the times he would tell me how I didn't understand myself or anyone else either. I almost got to the point I believed him. His particular brand of abuse was in telling me all about who I was - selfish, cold, uncaring for him, a poor listener, how much damage I was doing to him simply by being myself. He was patronizing. He finally found a way to control me and get me to back off of my assertiveness for my needs and wants. He would tell me to F off, all bc he was hurt by something I said, and ask five minutes later where I was. I left and drew the boundary I would not be talked to this way, he knew that. "As if you even cared about me, Z!" There was lots of silent treatment during the last two years. Where he would be pointedly nice to me in public and treat me as though I was invisible once home. Once in a while still the physical intimidation. Threats of suicide in middle of fights. During Robin Williams thing this started...he kept trying to make the point in normal conversation that his wife was surely responsible. I was having none of it. Stance changed to, "Z, I don't think you're prepared to be much of a caregiver. H, how do you need a caretaker anymore? Later, "I need someone who can be there for me." I worked three jobs supporting us, and meanwhile he pretended to be unable to drive, hid EAs. I tried to reach out to him emotionally to meet his needs, become s better listener. Then I was just insulted for being who I was, and it was hopeless for me to even try. So I tried harder to please, to be softer, more agreeable and...

There were more creepy sociopathic things. His absolute apathy one minute in front of me and then running to my family with alligator tears the next. Isolation attempts through telling a good friend of mine to stay away from his wife.

What you allow will escalate and continue. Once I owned that I was going to look at improving myself to improve our M...tried to pressure me into sex in same breath he was telling me he wanted to date others and be separated. Then, in between the sweet spots of piecing...lots of emotional blackmail, veiled threats, increased condescension, patronizing, psycho babble about the work I had in front of me, flat out told me he didn't care about my feelings, and if I brought them up it was back to "how would you feel if I had committed suicide? How much therapy are you going to need, Z, before you understand how bad you are for me?" Or he'd lock himself in the car and act timid and afraid if I said I wanted to discuss something. If I was crying, he was screaming at me for being angry at him. The last episode was denial and back pedaling and I refused to shut up and go away as he wanted....and so he threw heavy bowls at me, destroyed a 'life proofed' phone, screaming "you don't care about me" with fists an inch off my ears, "I'll break every gd dish in this house if I want to" and slammed front door into me as I walked out. Texted my mom out of 'concern' wondering where I was and then told her how I pushed his buttons, made him crazy. She had none of it. I got dilent treatment for three days, he ran up my debit card and had zero remorse when I confronted. Was just done with our M, hundreds of thousands of dollars of a settlement check in hand that week. And now will not sign the papers he drew up, or get the rest of his things. I have been in NC for a month and it is healing.


Mid 30's
Psych-abusive M with violent tantrums from XH
D 9/15; NC forever on

You can't DR your way out of abuse.



Zelda09 #2578315 06/14/15 10:53 PM
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Thank you Z for your honest posts. I know how hard this is as the abuse can be raw and traumatic. I struggle to express it.

I understand to some DBers that these posts are hard to read that reality may be difficult to assimilate.

There is light in the darkness, once awareness is creating lumination then recovery and additional resources can be found. it's like having a car whose engine is not starting, a diagnosis will start the work of repair.

There are DBers struggling with abuse issues, asking themselves am I being abused or am I the abuser?

From today, this very moment, healing can begin. Knowledge is the very beginning of wisdom. Once we know then we cannot unknow.

If there are struggles and pain, childhood trauma, or current trauma know this, you are no longer alone. Just as Z says alone is isolated, there is power in community.

Peace

V

Last edited by Vanilla; 06/14/15 10:53 PM.

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose.
V 64, WAW


Maybell #2578337 06/14/15 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted By: Maybell
Thank you for putting up this thread, Zelda and Vanilla. Your journal was interesting to me, Vanilla, I could relate a lot to the ignoring, etc. The first few years of our marriage we did stuff together but at some point everything we did involved an electronic screen. When I complained about that he got defensive and angry and said that he didn't like .... well, basically anything that DIDN'T involve a screen.

His dad is pretty verbally abusive to his mother, though most of the family says "That's just his way..." STBX told me to shut up one time when we had to make a 15 minute detour to get his wallet (this is in the first three years of our marriage), and though I laid into him on that occasion and he never was that overt again, he did find sneakier ways to express his contempt for me.

I've been really examining the history of my marriage and there are definitely some flags in there. But I don't know if I'll ever know if there is fire where I'm seeing smoke or if my eyes are clouded by how things turned out.

Thanks for putting this up here, it is definitely needed.


Thanks Maybell.

With regard to is it abuse or not. Wanting a hobby even if it's an electronic screen isn't abusive, but spending 24 hrs a day or week ignoring your family, forcing them to watch with you or enjoy what you enjoy may very well be. Just my view.

Ignoring was something H did to control, intermittent rewards. I would cook a meal and he would sneer and disappear to the pub. Occasionally a breadcrumb of deigning to eat with me. random.

Contempt is an emotion, a primary limbic one and uncontrollable as emotions go. I agree with Z, one thing to feel an emotion but quite another to convert that into directive behaviour designed to hurt.

A family history of abuse can also be a red flag.

If I told you that my H told me STFU three or four times a day in one way or another, would that add perspective? A good day at one stage was a 2 rant a day score.

Sounds like situational abuse rather than reactive or systemic, but you would know as you lived with it. One abuse is one too many though.

V

Last edited by Vanilla; 06/14/15 11:50 PM.

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose.
V 64, WAW


Vanilla #2578355 06/15/15 12:47 AM
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Thanks, V.

I wanted this thread, some message on this forum because of the hindsight and clarity 12 weeks away has brought. I wanted to save my M at any cost. Even on my piecing threads I was dishonest and wrote in rose colored glasses, playing my own role in minimizing - not even writing about the things he was doing and saying that hurt, made no sense. They were not the important parts of saving my M! And so what, he was only 'teething'

A marriage ending is traumatic for all of us. Wanting to stand for it and apply DR in the hopes of saving it is why we are here.

In an abusive marriage I believe there is a risk at this juncture to minimize your own experience.

Part of what keeps someone in a cycle of abuse is believing - some will say codependency - that we have anything to do with a partners behavior, any way to influence it for the good or bad. That if we had only framed our words better, done such and such differently, he or she would not 'react' to us the way they do.

DR says this is where change in a marriage can start, by changing our behavior first! And I believe this.

This thread is to help recognize toxic and abusive behaviors. To address within self, to see where boundaries are crossed, and to say that if you are living with an abuser and your M is becoming dangerous - even MWD does not advocate standing in such a situation.

If there is any hope, it is when an abuser wants to change. There is nothing you can do that will stop the abuse if boundaries are ignored. Not even DR.


Mid 30's
Psych-abusive M with violent tantrums from XH
D 9/15; NC forever on

You can't DR your way out of abuse.



Zelda09 #2578375 06/15/15 02:16 AM
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V, I think what I'm trying to process is where my boundaries are now and where they were before, so I can recognize where I should be in the future. I don't think I was in a systematically abusive relationship, but that STBX has a general lack of consideration for others and a need to feel superior, and that he indulged that need at my expense frequently because I was at hand. If I'm honest, that part of him was there all along and i glossed over it.

The example set by his parents was also not good and was getting worse right up to when he dumped me.

But this is a great thread. Where IS that line? One abuse is too many but I know my behavior was not always great, especially at the end when the panic and fury set in. My boundaries are different now.


Me42, H40
D12, S8, S7
A revealed: 7/13
Sep 4/14; Agreed to D 1/15

She believed she could, so she did.
Maybell #2578394 06/15/15 02:54 AM
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Maybell

I can only tell you that I didn't take action (have an intervention) until level 6. I wanted to save my M and loved H (still do) that boundaries kept getting breached until it got to very dangerous levels of abuse. But I was clearly aware there was abuse at level 3.

In Z case it was a level 6 breach which caused the first intervention (with her flat mate), from what she says she struggled with awareness at level 6.

That is very serious indeed and a wake up call.

I really started seriously enforcing boundaries at level 4, at that stage I was fully aware and having IC help with boundaries but took no direct action until H behaved at level 6. Although I did record H at earlier levels, ranting etc.

The only way to break from this systematic abuse is complete no contact with the abuser or they try to control and start a new cycle. This is also going to sound very odd, but there is a "trance" style Stockholm syndrome exhibited. I sense that if I let H into my life with even a chink of R, it would be off and running. When I tell H I no longer want to see or hear from him again and make it happen, I mean it. I will not be abused.

In many ways it's an issue when you are more concerned about losing your M than rebuilding it as a result of the abuse. Abuse is after all about control and the control is with the abuser.

Where do I think the line should be? Level 2 abuse.

Where did I draw the line? at level 4.

V

Last edited by Vanilla; 06/15/15 03:02 AM.

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose.
V 64, WAW


Vanilla #2578429 06/15/15 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted By: Virginia
A message from Michele Weiner-Davis

Hi Divorce Busters,

It has come to my attention that some people on this message board are strongly suggesting advice that runs counter to my Divorce Busting philosophy and practice- the notion of exposing a spouse's affair to family members. While this plan may be helpful to one couple, it would completely backfire in other marriages. I have worked with many couples where the betrayed spouse revealed all the information to friends and family with extremely detrimental outcomes. First, when the unfaithful spouse discovered this had happened, he or she decided to file for divorce and it became a final decision. Secondly, there are those situations where the couple began to heal from the infidelity and get their marriage back on track, but the family members undermined the couples' efforts and even "disowned" the betrayed spouse. This made life-long commitments after infidelity a very challenging outcome because few people like giving up their family and friends. So, while I do believe that betrayed spouses need support from loved ones when dealing with such a distressing situation, it is ESSENTIAL that the information about the affair be shared CAREFULLY and with full recognition about the possible risks. I always recommend that, if information is shared, the person with whom it is shared is marriage-friendly, even in the face of infidelity. Nonetheless, it's still important to recognize potential risks.


I am wondering if we substituted "abuse" for "affair" and "infidelity" whether this would apply?

In my own case intervention didn't work and the abuse was overt (visible) so i felt that it didn't matter.

V


Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose.
V 64, WAW


Vanilla #2578442 06/15/15 08:29 AM
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Good question, V.

I think there is a lot of load in admitting to even closest friends and family that there has been systematic abuse. Like you, when I realized it was over, I did. And started learning many things others had seen with my STBX. No desire to hurt his character, or mine, but I found honesty has been crucial for real support IRL.

Your levels are a great tool. Maybe to develop further so we have a common reference. I feel like 4,5 and above is a good point to say this is abuse/abuser. Everything under can be situational and occasional to a lot of good marriages under stress, or grey lines, and is easy to say these are generally toxic behaviors. Almost like gateway abuses? Places where boundaries can often be set and respected. I am shaky on this point, but it would seem over the top to me to call someone abusive for a rare spew. Behaved abusively...yes.

What comes to mind is that affairs break vows, trust, but are selfish matters done in the space of someone's own choices. The STD issue is huge and this poses risk for spouse. But abuse comes into our space.

An Abuser uses two tools to keep their behavior going:

- a level of protection 'victim' offers in secrecy, whether rooted in pride, fear, dignity, whatever reason to not tell others. Abuser trusts this. ( I think this is why mine finally chose a psychological style. I had no hesitation in calling out early level 4+ verbal and physical for what it was thanks to childhood. And telling him my nearest and dearest were aware and we discussed. More difficult with a wannabe psychologist making me doubt everything about who I was and what the games and gas lighting were. The overt abuses still occasionally surfaced.)

- image management. Most abusers will make such efforts to present as 'good guy' or 'victim' and start planting seeds of doubt about how awful you are to others, socially.

I don't believe it is helpful to remain silent because these tools become further affirmed.

But if my STBX ever did seriously want to change and was one if the rare ones who did more than lip service - it would be impossible for me to have support of friends and family in that marriage at this point. When I weighed my risks, this is what I have chosen because it represents a healthier reality for me. Safe, well-being with support. No longer alone and enabling these two tools above, because I have hope that this is a changeable dynamic.


Mid 30's
Psych-abusive M with violent tantrums from XH
D 9/15; NC forever on

You can't DR your way out of abuse.



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