I’M ALWAYS SCARED AROUND THEM
so I can’t say how I really feel
PREVIOUS: Direct Abusers
(Ps = Perpetrators, Abusers / Vs = Victims)
• As mentioned previously, overt abuse in the obvious form of physical violence is easier to identify, since it often has consequences others can see. Unfortunately Vs are usually so beaten down & ashamed that they refuse to acknowledge what they’re enduring. We’ve all heard the excuses: “I walked into a door” , “I accidentally fell” , “It’s nothing”….. These cover-ups are used by all categories of Vs : children, men – because they don’t want to show weakness – the elderly, single women and mothers who are financially dependent on their mates. But highly successful women are also victimized for years. Shame silences.
• All blatant abuse is done without concern for the physical or mental well-being of the victim. Ps don’t care about the effect of their actions on the V. since no one else really counts but themselves (narcissism). Even ‘loved ones’ have no real or separate existence of their own. Vs are just an extension of the P’s internal world, experienced as extensions of the P, like one of their own limbs. Narcissistic mother to child: “Put a sweater on, I’m cold!”
IRONY: Abusers believe & act as if they’re the god of their world – leader, boss, creator, to be obeyed & worshiped. YET they’re totally dependent for their sense of equilibrium & well-being on others!
SO – Abusers are terrified when others don’t follow their script, because:
• the independence or disobedience of significant others radically diminish the P’s identity & supply of psychic nourishment
• it forces the P to realize their world view may be ‘off’ – that they’re not the center of everything!
• the P loses the sense of controlling their inner world (thoughts, feelings….), which they find intolerable
IF the abuser loses power over other people, especially an important V, they feel like they’re going crazy, as if they’ve lost control of a leg or an arm, even their mind. Their feelings of insecurity, anxiety & helplessness trigger violence, crazy manipulations & frantic attacks. It’s an effort to relieve their terror & shore up the crashed False Self – by forcing the other person back into alignment.
• Deeply insecure (from self-hate), so – extremely jealous
• Inconsistent – can do well at work & in many social situations, but sulky or cruel in private. Unpredictable mood swings
• Need to control everything, because of Fear of Abandonment
• No personal responsibility – always blame mate, boss, children & the whole world – for their troubles
• Poor impulse control: use alcohol, drugs & other addictions, go into rages, hurt children & animals, batter their spouse, are unfaithful
• Terrible at communicating – especially about emotions (prefer to talk with their fists), think in black & white, use distorted logic (CDs)
• Very touchy – easily insulted, take everything personally
CHART of COERCION (sometimes called the “torture table”), by Dr. Judith Biderman, comes from her study of toxic religious groups whose members become captives by PMES control. These are some ways used by Ps to hold power over any kind of group – prison guards, cult leaders, school masters, bosses, heads of governments … AND of course parents! (MORE...):
• Degradation: Makes the cost of resisting seem more dangerous to your self-esteem than giving in. Reduces you to “animal level” concerns
• Demonstrate ‘Omnipotence’: Makes it clear that it’s not possible for you to resist being abused & dominated
• Enforce Trivial Demands: Creates the habit of giving in (compliance)
• Induced Debility & Exhaustion: Weakens mental & physical ability to resist
• Isolation : Deprives you of all social support which would help you to resist. Develops in you an intense concern for the abuser, and makes you dependent on that authority figure
• Monopolize Perception : Fixes your attention on the immediate problem & creates narrowed vision of reality. Eliminates any input that would compete with those chosen by the abuser. Prevents you from taking any actions opposite of compliance
• Occasional Indulgences: Provides ‘positive’ motivation for your continued compliance (payoffs for obeying, but starves you with crumbs to keep you quiet & coming back for more)
• Threats: Cultivates anxiety and despair
ILLUSION: Victims often say “I just don’t understand why they…” OR will ask, over & over: “Why are they doing this? What did I do wrong?”….
➼ The reason Vs keep asking is not for self-knowledge, or compassion for the P. It is the WIC’s need to placate the monster they’re not allowed to leave. So ACoAs believe that – “If I could only figure out exactly why they’re acting this way, then I can change myself, them or the situation (mainly myself) & then things will get much better & we’ll all be happy!”
REALITY – Only Ps can stop acting out abuse, by dealing with their underlying problems – which they rarely do, because most Ps. totally believe they have a right to control, put down, manipulate & order others around. They do not see themselves as abusers because they think it’s legitimate for them to exert power over others, AND that weak people deserve to be put in their place, since weakness is to be despised – a projecting of what was done to them. Besides, they say Vs are ‘asking for it’ by being pathetic. So there’s no reason for the P to change!
From the HBO series “The Sopranos’, the therapist eventually fires Tony after reading a -genuine- study (by authors Samuel Yochelson and Stanton Samenow, psychiatrists specializing in the criminal mind). It reports that therapy doesn’t actually help sociopaths — it further enables their bad behavior by sharpening their manipulative skills.
NEXT: Indirect Abusers