Why Abusers and Narcissists Should be Feared

no-more-logo1.jpgMy life with an abuser, someone who exhibits narcissist behavior, has been traumatic to say the least. I don’t use those terms lightly or as hyperbolic bluster. I was beaten for years by my husband, who continued the abuse emotionally, legally and financially after divorce.

I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. I worked for years on recovery through difficult therapy and eye-opening research. I have survived by my own hope and responsibility for my children. My kids have suffered through a kind of chaos only children of domestic abuse understand.

This happened to me, a middle-class, professional woman, because I diminished the warning signs of a troubled man and dismissed my gut feeling that I was settling for less. It happened to me because I believed that love would conquer all negatives and would eventually bring out the best in everyone.

I was idealistic, foolish and wrong.

I didn’t know that a narcissistic, abusive man was never capable of being anything other than a threat to me and our eventual children. It didn’t matter how much he told me he loved me or how many moments of delight we might have been able to string together.

Believing that “for better or worse” applied to a union with a narcissistic abuser turned out to be a costly mistake.

I wish I had known then what I know now.

No one should ever marry a narcissist or anyone willing to exploit another. They are dangerous. They will cause their family unimaginable pain, likely for the rest of their lives. No one should ever allow these people to be a primary parent or co-parent with another. No one should ever allow one of these people to be in charge of another human being’s daily life. They create life-changing, toxic environments for the victims dependent on them.

These people are known to be:

  • Liars
  • Manipulators
  • Selfish
  • Abusive
  • Entitled
  • Ragers
  • Blamers
  • Willing to discredit their closest friends and family
  • Exploiters of the weak
  • Willing to capitalize on others’ pain
  • Revisionists
  • Insecure
  • Braggarts

And they are willing to train all these negative powers directly on the closest people in their lives the minute they realize whatever consequences there might be aren’t enough of a deterrent to outweigh the gain it brings them.

They can’t be trusted. They have horrible judgment that is often masked by bravado and spin. They are often fired, repeatedly throughout their careers, or suffer other forms of failure. They don’t have long-term friendships that are rich and deep. They have dysfunctional relationships with their children and family.

If you are in a relationship with one of these people. You may be in denial or still clinging to hope that somehow, under the right circumstances or with your love, things will change. You might experience a temporary improvement of your relationship conditions, but it will never last and before you know it, you will be back in a mess that you can’t seem to figure out. “High maintenance” doesn’t even cover the way you will have to manager this relationship.

If you are in a relationship with one of these people, and you want happiness and peace in your life, then you must get out as carefully as you can. They don’t like to be dumped and they will retaliate.

If you are being courted by someone who looks a bit like this, you need to seriously take stock of your next steps. You may not have stumbled on a narcissistic abuser, but to be on the safe side, you need to find out. A lot is at stake.

Because if you have partnered up with a narcissistic abuser, you are in more emotional, financial, psychological and physical danger than you realize. You owe it to your future self to find out.

 

 

 

Are You Open About the Abuse?

Dear Readers,

I’m writing a story about women who no longer hide that they are an abuse victim. Are you will to be a part of an article I am writing about this subject for divorcedmoms.com? If so, please msg me at Thriving in Crazy Land on divorcedmoms.com. I would like to interview as many women victims of domestic abuse as possible.

Thank you for your help.

Sincerely,

J.B.Cole

It has been awhile since I’ve posted

June 22, 2014 _ I am a survivor of Domestic Violence and Abuse, recovering from PTSD, a mother of two wonderful children, 51 years old, divorced, a writer, businesswoman and unfortunately co-parenting with my abuser under court-order.

It has been 20 years since I was first physically attacked by then husband, 9 years since the last time he attacked me.

It has been one day since he last emotionally abused me. He did it by creating a fight with me while our child is in his care by telling me that our child is upset with me over my parenting style and a “decision” that he fears I’ve made. When I wouldn’t engage with his abusive texts, he contacted the parenting coordinator and told her to call the judge and report me as neglecting my duty to communicate. I asked to see our child so that I could hear the concerns directly, my ex said no.

After 20 years of abuses my ex has expressed, the details aren’t really all that important anymore. There are so many incidents of controlling, malicious behaviors, that they blur together.

My brain works very logically. I want to understand relationship dynamics because I want to get along with everyone. It is part of my co-dependent nature. When sudden trouble shows up in any of my relationships, I am immediately disturbed and begin the exhausting process of pealing the events and actions back so that I can understand how we got off on the wrong track.

However, relationships with some people don’t work, no matter the path it takes. Some people have problems, to say the least. And that notion has always been hard to get my head around. I’ve always believed in the fantasy that with enough, acceptance and explanation to avoid misunderstanding, people’s better nature will win out and relationships will run smoothly.

That fantasy has caused me years of pain.

It took me just about half a century to learn that some people are very broken and their better nature is hopelessly entangled in their own fear and personality disorders and impossible to operate normally, and

I don’t have the power to cause anyone to operate through their better nature.

Some people aren’t waiting to clear up a misunderstanding.

Some people don’t want relationships to run smoothly.

Some people don’t care if another person is hurt, or worse, want others hurt.

I think that fantasy is one many hold. I don’t think that I am alone. In fact, I’ve seen many people believe that my ex, an admitted abuser who relishes dominating people in every way, can be reasonable, even kind and loving if only he is in the right circumstance.

I’ve seen that in many domestic abuse cases. So much of our society believes that abusers are abusing because of circumstance and not because they are criminals. It doesn’t compute to believe that a person can follow the rules of society, like marriage, jobs, children, etc., and still be a criminal.

My therapist said it this way to me, “Crazy people still go to the grocery store.”

So true.

The danger in assuming that all those people milling about the grocery store are sane and reasonable, is that we afford a lot of latitude to sane people _ we don’t have protecting boundaries in place for ourselves and for our children.

Last night as I worried about my child, I forced myself to watch a sad movie. It is a trick I have to make myself cry _ really. I have to find ways to make myself cry when I’m worried about my children and my ex because if I don’t, the fear of trauma is trigger in me. Years and years of abuse means fight or flight reflex is easily accessed with who knows how many extra synapses created in my brain. Crying, feeling sorry for myself, actually helps way more than my normal reaction … to problem solve (part of the reflex).  But, years and years of abuse, means that I want to problem solve way more than I want to feel sorry for myself.

So, I force the feeling to come using tricks, designed by my therapist. Watching sad movies, listening to sad songs, photo albums … Essentially, I am forcing myself to feel the real feeling behind all of this.

I am sad that I was abused by my children’s father. I’m sad that I won’t grow old with my children’s father. I am sad that I couldn’t stop my children from having a fucked up childhood. I am sad that my children are forced to navigate life with an abusive father. I am sad that he won’t ever get better.

Feeling the real feeling helps me to no end. Oh, it sucked last night as I cried my eyes out. But, just a few minutes later, I felt a lot better and I accept that there is no problem solving I can do, no fight or flight reaction that will change the truth about my situation … that my ex, the father of my children is a criminal and the courts and society don’t truly acknowledge domestic abuse as a real crime against a person.

Even the term, “domestic abuse” downgrades the crime. “Domestic” implies a lesser crime that just assault. It implies that there is something within the control of the domicile that caused the abuse, rather than the truth, that one person has criminally assaulted another. And in fact, it is worse that stranger assault, because within a relationship, the victim doesn’t have boundaries in place to protect against abuse. Instead, there is trust that abuse won’t happen.

The terms we use actually help keep domestic abuse going and let the abuser know they can get away with it.

One day, I hope that we stop calling it domestic abuse and start calling it what it is: assault.

My ex is a criminal. Make no mistake.

He was never arrested, because I never called the police. And frankly, with the laws in my state, it is really possible that we both would have been arrested if I did call the police, even though I was the attacked.

When abuse means attack and emotional abuse means conspiracy to harm another and corruption of a minor, then we will making some progress.

But, we aren’t there yet.

The movie I watched to set off my healing, cleansing tears was Philomeana … a true story about an Irish women who had her son taken away from her  at an Irish home for unwed mothers run by the Catholic church. On her baby’s 50th birthday, she tried to find him with the help of a journalist. She did find him, except, that he had died years before as a result of AIDS. In her search, she finds out that the nuns had sold her child out from under her, without even able to say good-bye and when she finally confronts one of the aging nuns who did it and showed no regret, Philomeana instantly forgives her. Wow, powerful. This poor woman, I thought as I cried a river.

But, back then, the church believed a fantasy too. That this was best and Christian. How truly sick is that, well really sick. But, an entire institution thought it was OK.

Thank God I didn’t have my children taken away from me. Thank God I didn’t go through that hell.

With time, and awareness and understanding, I pray that we as a society come together and change the collective fantasy that domestic abuse is something within closed doors and between two people and therefore is none of our business. I pray that we realize that abuse is criminal and criminals should not go through life without additional boundaries.

Criminals have been given the same choice as all of us. They could have navigated their lives and pain without taking it out of others by committing crimes against others. They had the same choices as you and me. To make mistakes, to get angry of course.

Those who attack others have shown their colors. We should believe them and act accordingly. Today, would we give those nuns the keys to the nursery? I don’t think so.

Watching Philomeana forgive that nun, reminds me that forgiveness is best. But, wow, so hard to do. However, forgetting is not required and boundaries should never be loosened.

To all those women getting bruised today, hang in there and get help. You need it and deserve it.

How to cope and recover after domestic abuse

Nov. 16, 2013 _ Domestic violence reeked havoc in my life, my children’s and to this day, eight years after the last physical assault, still weighs on my heart. It doesn’t help that I must, by court order, have limited contact with my abuser, the father of my children. Imagine being forced to communicate with someone who beat you up, assaulted you, called you every name in the book, betrayed you and repeatedly used you _ it sucks.

But, today, I’m healthier emotionally than I have ever been and it is in large part due to great counseling from a very well trained domestic abuse counselor at my local DV agency. With therapy, I am processing the trauma of abuse and healing from PTSD, a condition I never through applied to me.

If you are involved in some way with a domestic abuser, my prayers are with you. I know that your life is harder than most realize. I hope that you will seek help from a very good therapist who understands domestic abuse.

Here are my tips to learning to cope and recover:

1. If you are still living with your abuser, please make a plan to leave as soon as you can. If you have children together, it is very important to meet with an attorney first, before leaving. Many states have antiquated family law that doesn’t yet recognize the facts and dangers about DV. You need to get as much custody of your children as you can and have as much in writing as possible. Please don’t live in the fantasy that you will be able to work together post divorce as parents. Sadly, your abuser is more likely to use your children as a way to continue to control and get power.

2. Get help from your local domestic abuse service. Google domestic abuse and your city to find out who and where you can get help. You need help from people who understand the difficulties you face. Domestic abuse is a crime and like most crimes, it results in a traumatized victim and a demented criminal, and that is hard enough of course. But, with domestic abuse, the victim is often falsely accused of causing the abuse and held at least partly responsible for the dynamic. The legal system, friends and family can cause further trauma, as a result. A good therapist can help you process all of those feelings in a way that can help your recovery. Please don’t try to go it alone. I think it is impossible to recover without the help of good people in your corner.

3. Grieve the loss of your “traditional” life. This means, you must walk through the pain of grief, which is not easy to do after going through the pain of abuse. But, grieving is a healthy step, one that we often gloss over. It is Ok to cry about your disappointment, fear and pain. No one gets married believing that they are going to end up in a mess. It sucks and you deserve to have a bunch of days in tears over it. The best thing about grieving is that when its over, days, weeks, months later, you will feel so much better and the clouds will begin to clear.

4. If you have children together, spend a lot of time working through every parenting issue you think you might face in the future and get it in writing now. The more you have on paper, the less chance your abuser will have to continue to abuse. Get as much spelled out as possible about the kids’ schedules, schooling, medical decisions, activities, church, vacations, drop offs and pick ups, and so on. Don’t spend too much time trying to control how your ex cares for your children, no matter how worried you are about his judgment. Judges don’t like parents who try to control what an ex does with the children. But, when it comes to how you two work together, get it in writing. Abusers love gray areas, because it gives them a way to fight. Abusers really enjoy fighting.

5. Build a new life in ways that make you happy and brings joy. Go back to school. Get a new job. Move. Take care of yourself. This is one of the hardest goals to achieve because it takes two things most victims don’t have, money and time. But, it is so important. Do your best to find ways to take care of yourself and don’t judge yourself too harshly. You have been through hell and you need to understand you aren’t perfect.

6. Cut people out of your life that judge your marriage with the abuser. You do not need anyone in your life who wants to “stay neutral” or think that have a ligitimate opinion on your life together. They don’t.   You need to surround yourself with people who love you, support you and have only the best comments to say to you. If someone wants to tell you how to get over it, get along with your ex or how to feel, you need to find a new friend. Victims are often co-dependents, and really bad at recognizing a good friend vs. a bad one. Tell yourself over and over that you need supportive friends and family only at this time. It is no time to give your time to the wrong people.

7. Work hard to keep distance between you and your abuser. For safety reasons, you need to distance. No contract or limited contact is advised for emotional and physical safety. Work hard at breaking the ties that bind you with your abuser. It takes time, but keep at it. You will be thankful when you finally realize your abuser is completely out of your life.

 

Victims can learn to understand the play field

Aug. 12, 2013 _ I spent some time this weekend with a friend who is divorcing an emotional abuser and she wanted some advice in putting in writing their parenting plan for their 5-year-old daughter.

As I helped her navigate this complicated form, I was able to relive my journey through family court and the fear and ignorance I had back when I believed the court system would protect myself and my children from an abuser.

Standing in the shower this morning, I realized there was something here worth sharing with all those other women trying to move through family court with an abuser.

(Just a quick disclaimer: I know that don’t all abusers are men, some are women. And I know that all state courts are not the same. My journey was in Florida and it is important to understand your own state laws.)

The first thing to know is that despite any police report or other evidence of abuse, family court will begin the case and hope to stay in a place that believes that both parents are equally entitled to raise the children and that both parents have the same rights to decide how the children are raise.

That is very important to understand. No matter how much you were abused, the family court in Florida wants to believe a falsehood: That a wife abuser can be a good father.

Take a minute to yell about how stupid that sounds and sucks, and then move on. Because, you can’t change that premise, no matter how wrong you believe it to be.

The next part of that premise, is that the family court doesn’t believe that a child should spend more time with the mother than the abusive father. In fact, the family court sort of believes that the fathers in this state have been unfairly treated by mothers and their attorney’s, so they might be bias to cutting them some slack and giving them more importance.

The family court also assumes that mothers are more likely to fight irrationally for control of their babies, like a mother bear who protects her cubs, and that is not necessarily a good thing for the kids. In other words, the court is likely to assume that you are crazy, hypersensitive and unreasonable in protecting your children. They are going to assume that you think your kids are in danger being with your ex because you are an over zealous mother rather than a victim of unthinkable trauma.

And these are the reasons why you need to get it together and in an hurry for court. Because we know that those assumptions are not correct here. Just read through my blog to find one story about just how an abusive man can hurt his kids.

Nevertheless, you have two choices here:

1. Accept this and learn to work within the system or

2. Fight very hard to prove that your ex is dangerous (and by the way, courts, judges, parent coordinators, mediators and even your own attorney do not want you to do this.)

If you choice number 2, you better have a boatload of proof and lots and lots of evidence that your ex has hurt your child in the past. You will also need a lot of money to pay a willing attorney. If you don’t, and really even if you do, the courts aren’t going to like it at all and that means that they are going to question your parenting for having done it.

Courts want to believe that you are willing to finally work with the father of the child now that you are out of the trauma of the marriage.

I know, it is ass-backwards and doesn’t make any sense to a good mother, nor is it easy. And, choice 1 is completely different than choice 2. If you try to go down the choice 1 route, and then switch to choice 2, you look like a liar. If you stay in choice 2, you look crazy.

The only good news is that if you start down choice 2, let’s say with your attorney, switching to choice 1 makes you look like someone who has learned and is willing to accept her situation in the eyes of the court.

Please don’t misunderstand me … this pisses me off to no end. I think the legal system is very flawed and rewards lying and manipulations and doesn’t really deal with what is best for the children, but I learned to accept this and that helped me heal from the trauma and do my best in court.

Abused mothers have a very narrow road to walk through family court and so much is at stake. And my biggest problem with this system is that it further traumatized an abuse victims. Victims have been through hell and are not given a chance to heal and process what has happened to them at the hands of their loved one.

And then, they are thrown into an arena that completely dismisses the abuse, not because they don’t believe them or want to be fair, but because they don’t care. How depressing is that.

Instead abused mothers have to enter court with their abusers and have to wipe away the trauma without help and suddenly pretend that the co-parent on the other side of the room isn’t the guy that beat them senseless. Now that is crazy-making.

And if the mom tries to protect herself from that ass who beat her by keeping distance, she is treated as through she is putting her needs over her child’s.

So, what to do. Learn as quickly as you can to accept it so you can protect your child. It took me therapy, friends and a good lawyer to do get centered enough to handle the court process.

I will write later about how I handled the court system. But, the best thing to do is to find someone who can help you process the unfairness of all of this, because you need to be at your emotional best when facing this process. Good luck and bless you in your efforts.

 

 

The cycle of violence

I’ve had to reeducate myself lately on the cycle of violence for an abuser. As you have read, my ex husband has come on stronger and stronger of late and I am living with some of the fears I did when I was married to him.

I have believed that my ex is under pressure in his current marriage as his wife seeks control and is frustrated by how much control I seemly have in her life. And when he is under pressure, I’ve believed that he looses control of himself and lashes out.

But I have it wrong.

And the cycle of violence wheel has helped me understand again what is really going on and why I have to be careful.

The cycle works like this: The abuser has a violent episode, then there is an absence of violence, then tension builds, then it escalates, then there is a violent episode. In my situation, my ex’s violent episodes (as far as I know) was when we were separated and getting divorced, then he went for a year or two without violence and not much tension, then the tension began building when I started to demand child support owed and held to boundaries regarding the children, now it is escalating as he makes threats to me about the custody, the kids’ schedule, child support. He complains that he is the victim and is being treated poorly. He complains that he is under pressure.

When I look at my ex husband’s behavior in those terms, it worries me at where he will end up. I am not so worried for myself, but for my kids. I hope that his behavior doesn’t continue on the cycle and that he gets some help, but it doesn’t look good. I wish that I could tell his wife that she is in danger too, but she won’t listen to me and will believe that I am just trying to stir the pot.

I am sad that my 11 year marriage with the man who fathered my children is such a pile of bad memories and that in divorce, we can’t find peace and compromise. But, abusers don’t want compromise, unless it means that they get what they want. Abusers choose to hit, threaten and so on because they want control over another person. Abusers don’t care about compromising and give and take, they are only concern about what they can get. They hit so that they can get what they want.

I have made the mistake of trying to work with my ex because I believed that any two people can work things out if they try. But the key word is “two”… and my abuser like most abusers sees only one person.

I recommend this website for more information about domestic abuse, it is really good : http://www.turningpointservices.org/domesticviolence.htm

Forgive? How is that possible?

When I first left my abusive husband, I was so relieved that I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I didn’t think about the “death” of my marriage, what I had lived through or anything negative at all. I wasn’t mad or even sad, I was happy. Because for the first time in at least a decade, I had hope. My depression was lifted and I was grateful.

But as the years passed and my ex-husband continued to try to control me and my children, the continued struggle of dealing with an abusive man was taxing.

I also made the mistake of continuing “the secret.” I was so glad to be out of the marriage, that it was easy to continue the ruse that my ex-husband was nothing but a caring, understanding man. I didn’t even care that some friends and family thought I was crazy to leave him. Let him have that, I thought. I have something much greater, peace and hope.

I told my immediate family and very few friends, just why I left. But that was it. And I moved on. And I believed, incorrectly, that I had forgiven my ex.

But through the years, as our broken family has navigated the river of life, I have realized two things. I am still involved with an abusive man and I still need to work on forgiveness.

Oddly, both were surprises to me. Part of me believed the game that I was somehow to blame or that our marriage “mixed” poorly and that led to the violence and betrayals. I also believed that forgiveness happens when you are not feeling pain or you no longer fear. Both assumptions are completely wrong.

It is still difficult for me to get my head around that I am not to blame for my ex-husband’s abusive actions. But I’m working hard on it. When I read about other women’s stories or hear them speak in group therapy, I see how similar our stories are and that helps me to see that an abusive man is different than all those “regular” husbands.

Abusive men have a moral compass that is different than most people. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same stresses in life as anyone else. When my ex-husband complains about me, he sounds like any other man complaining about his wife, but he has another motive than just venting and letting off some steam. He is building a case to free himself of responsibly to another person. He is creating an enemy in his mind so that he can focus his energies on his own needs and desires. In all my years with my ex-husband, he never looked into my eyes and sincerely thanked me for anything I ever did for him or on his behalf. He never told me that I was important to him and he never showed me one bit of gratitude for any effort I may have done for him.

And though it was difficult to put into words well… asking for recognition from your husband just feels awkward and demanding… I knew how empty and sad I felt about it.

But in the heart of an abuser, they must maintain the victim mentality so accepting that their spouse did anything good for them doesn’t fit.

So as I get help and understand the mind of an abuser more and more, the pattern keeps coming up the same. I think about my friend’s marriages and how they generally work without abuse… One dear friend has a marriage that impresses me so much.. because as much as they argue and fight, yell and complain to each other, they are truly best friends and in the end, they come back to compromise and love toward each other. They don’t hit, lie and ignore each other’s needs. They work it out with a common goal to come together. The wife in that union, is as opinionated as me, is a strong willed as me and is smart as me and her husband doesn’t end their marital disputes with violence.

The other assumption is that ultimately, I have to find forgiveness for my ex-husband even in the face of continued controlling behavior. I need to forgive him for my sake, for his sake, for the sake of his new wife and most of all for my children’s sakes.

I am not saying that I should forget. In fact, I always got that mixed up. I would forget and not forgive. But instead, I need to forgive and never forget. My therapist suggests to me that I keep as much distance between my ex and myself as possible in order to reduce the incidents of controlling behavior and to help me heal my scars.

Much like a returning soldier who has flashbacks, I can quickly return to the emotional state of fear, panic and stress with just a little of my ex-husband’s controlling behavior. The fact that he is still keeping “the secret” also plays a role. He has not been honest with his current wife, and let’s face it, that shouldn’t be a surprise. But he likes to maintain his innocents with me in our new public life, and that is truly hard to stomach.

The less time we spend together the better. It is not easy with two children and with his fame. I am often approached my people who want to know what my NFL sports writing husband is up to. I am still approached by even family members who want autographs and tickets from him. My children’s school mates are impressed with their “famous” dad and that means I get the questions from the kids when I’m chaperoning field trips and handing out snacks.

In the end, I take responsibility for that. I married him. I had children with him. I divorced him. The post traumatic stress I feel now is for me to cure. Part of that is to realize that my ex-husband is just trying to get by as well. I don’t believe that an abusive man has a mental illness, but I do believe that there is something broken inside and that helps me to feel empathy for him. I don’t believe he wanted to hit me, I believe he wanted to live without responsibility to another person and he is willing to hit me to make that happen. And I know he has not learned this about himself.

So I work every day to find forgiveness in my heart. I am grateful that I have God to help me with this. Because there is no way I could do that on my own. I must forgive my ex-husband even in the face of his controlling behavior. I must find a way to forgive so that I can move on.