They Make You and Those You Love Believe You Are Crazy!
This may seem like a rehash of my other blogs but I assure that this is a real eye-opener for many women who wonder if they are the crazy, uncaring ones in their home. Joanne Armstrong is one very brave lady who has stepped forward to talk about the things her abuser has done. She is now divorced and finally free (her words). She authors a book called In Sheep's Clothing. Her goal is to help women everywhere identify abuse, leave their co-dependency behind, and find freedom to be who they are in Christ. I will present her material in three or four parts. Any of you who are living with an abuser will readily identify with hers.
A WARNING TO ABUSED WOMEN EVERYWHERE
(PART I I DENTIFYING YOUR ABUSER-YOU THINK YOU ARE CRAZY)
An abusive person is a controlling person. Where there is control, there is abuse. If you are married to a man who is an abuser, it is more like a father/daughter relationship rather than a relationship of equality and respect. There is nothing that will kill love and passion faster in a relationship then being married to someone who insists on being "one-up" or being in the father role. Who wants to go to bed with their father. Abuse is about power and control.
Using the power and control wheel developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project of Minnesota, I will attempt to give an overall portrait of an abuser. Instances and techniques may vary, but most abusers have all or most of these controlling traits. I will use instances from my life, living with an abuser, to illustrate. I also need to state that there are overt abusers and there are covert abusers. Overt abusers come right out and abuse blatantly and boldly. Covert abusers are the worst and the hardest to confront. They do their abusing and controlling in a hidden, manipulative, secretive way (see the book "In Sheep's Clothing").
When you discuss how they hurt you they appear to be loving and kind, but their actions are controlling and conveying the message that you are the problem. That what is wrong with the family is your anger and lack of forgiving. They masterfully make you believe your faith in God is not real because you do not practice your Christian walk with them, and that your love for the family is only half-hearted. They manipulate to get their way by getting people to feel sorry for them, making people feel guilty, etc. My son calls it an evil spell when his father uses these covert techniques. When I have had my abusive ex kicked out of the house, he goes and finds people who will "pat his flesh" or sympathize with him. To get people to do this, he must manipulate their feelings and get them to believe that he has been unjustly wronged. My ex doesn't have one good thing to say about his abusive, controlling, manipulative mother(it can also be his father at times) except that when he was a boy, if his mother thought he had been unfairly treated or unjustly wronged, she would sympathize with him or console him.
So in order for the abuser to get sympathy or consolation from people, he must manipulate them into thinking that he has been unjustly wronged in order to get his "flesh patted" or to get consoled, when he really needs to suffer the consequences of his behavior, which is what will cause him to change. The abuser will call his or your mother, brother, friends or whoever will listen and tell them untruthful things in order to get them to console him. He will manipulate them to get comforted. No one likes a manipulator so he tells them of all the things you withhold from him-SEX is usually at the top. The abuser tries to get people to feel sorry for him by sighing, acting hurt and so on. As long as he can find people who will console him instead of let him suffer the consequences of his behavior, he will continue to manipulate people to get them to feel sorry for him so HE FEELS BETTER and he doesn't have to take responsibility for his behavior. My perceptive nine year old son is on to his tricks calls this manipulative, "feel sorry for me behavior" an "evil spell".
One weekend, my nine year old son and I spent the weekend in a shelter for abuse victims. I wanted to go home. My son told me that he didn't want to talk to his father because he didn't want to be put under his evil spell. He told me that his dad constantly works at making the children distrust me. I asked him what he meant by that. He stated, "He will start sighing and looking all sad and he will say, "I guess your mother and I couldn't work things out." He will manipulate a person's emotions to get what he wants. He is a chameleon who changes color depending on who he is with. He will tell you what he thinks you want to hear in order to protect himself. I have seen this man give the old "Mr. Repentfull" routine to so many pastors, ministers, bible study leaders and so on, yet he never changes his behavior. A chameleon changes his color according to his surroundings in order to protect himself. A controlling abuser is all about protecting himself and that is why he controls in the first place. He is a true drama queen when on full tilt, a con man, salesman, and can win academy awards for his acting ability. Why even he believes the things he says, yet the behavior never changes and the things he says never line up with the things he does. There is a big gap between the words and walk. A Christian family counselor once told my ex that he was like a dog that professed undying love and devotion to his family while pissing on their leg. He also said that, relationally, things my ex did weres like making a whole pot of homemade soup. You put in all these good ingredients and then pour in the poison. What he did was so hurtful and poisonous that it killed everybody and everything and it didn't matter what good things he had put in the pot. Death resulted.
Abusers are often extremely charming and come off as "Mr. Nice Guy" to those who don't live with him. That is part of that "evil spell" my nine year old son spoke of. He is a fake and a phony! It makes me sick to my stomach to hear someone say, "What a nice guy" because we know differently. He has everyone fooled, especially the women! Women fall for this "Mr. Nice Guy" stuff, hook, line and sinker. I did, too, until I married the abuser. I didn't have a clue to his controlling, abusive nature until a week before our wedding. I had quit my job and moved in with him, two hours away from where I had been living, away from family and friends, without a job and isolated. That is when I got my first taste of the other side of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. He asked me to do something, which was part of his job at work, and I didn't feel I should be doing it. Mr. Nice Guy wasn't so nice anymore when I didn't do what he wanted.
Let's go to the Power and Control wheel, going clockwise, starting at 12:00. As experienced in my marriage:
Making the family afraid by using looks, actions, gestures, smashing things, destroying her property, abusing pets, displaying weapons.
My ex said that he wanted to get my kids to the point where he could control them with just a look. His own children were spoiled and out of control, but my children were the problem in the family. He wanted to be able to glare at them and have them fear him in order to cause them to behave, especially around other people. That way he wouldn't have to correct them in public. He would pound his fist on things when he couldn't get the kids to do what he wanted. If my daughter wasn't doing her homework right, he would scream at the top of his lungs at her, lecturer her and pound on things or throw things. If you have a mixed marriage they use extreme measures to bring your children into line. You see, they are actually jealous of your relationship to your children and want you to prefer their brood over your own.
One particular time, when my ex was sitting in the car in the garage lecturing my 12 year old daughter, she tuned him out as teenagers often do. He couldn't control her if she wasn't listening to him. He became frustrated that she wasn't listening and he lost control of the situation, so he acted like he was going to attack her sexually by shoving his hand down her buttoned shirt, causing the buttons to rip off and pop open. He also shoved his hand between her legs in her genital area. They had been sitting in the car in the garage, talking. When my ex did this, my daughter jumped out of the car and came running past me crying as she went up to her room. Two and a half months later, my daughter attempted suicide.
I had tried to go to a pastor to talk to him about our situation and get him to help us, but my ex found out about it and made an appointment to see the pastor. He tells pastors and people that we are "unstable" so that we are not believed and he comes off as the kindest, most loving man alive. When my ex tells people we are "unstable", then anything we now say is "discredited" and not taken seriously. This is an isolation technique that abusers use to isolate their family from anyone who would help them. This is also part of the "Power and Control Wheel" and will be discussed further. This cuts the family off from neighbors, family, friends, pastors, or anyone who may offer support to the abuser's family or his victims. When my ex came home from talking to this pastor, he told us all this bad stuff that the pastor had said to him about us. We felt like no one would listen to us, believe us, or help us. We felt abandoned by God and others. It was right after that, that my daughter attempted suicide and was hospitalized. In retrospect, I am not so sure, now, that the pastor even said anything at all about us. This kind of mental/emotional control is designed to isolate you and cut you off from anyone who would help you or intervene. The next Sunday we went to church, the pastor wouldn't even look at my daughter or me or acknowledge us, but he went up to the abuser and patted him on the shoulder in front of us and said, "We'll get through this together, man. Just hang in there." To this day, my grown daughter doesn't want to go to church and wants nothing to do with God. We were abandoned by anyone in a position of authority to help us. What made it worse was that this person in a position of authority was God's representative. It leaves you feeling hopeless, desperate and in despair. I can't stand to go to church today with the abuser because he is so fake and phony and he can con those, without discernment, so easily. It makes me sick! Who wants to risk being hurt again this way. The abuser used to have to control us on the way to church as well. We always had to "look good" and appear happy so that no one approached him because "my daughter looked depressed and as head of the household, the abuser must be doing something wrong. One day my young junior high aged daughter had on red pants and she put on her only hot pink coat to go to church. It is all about APPEARANCE to their way of thinking! I didn't care, but the abuser was extremely concerned about how she looked and how this reflected upon him. All the way to church, he tried to convince her and told her she looked like "a screaming circus". No wonder we didn't want to go to church with the abuser. Most of the time they are uninvolved in the service unless they hear a sermon they can use against you. They love the "submission sermons" and apply it to you and your children to make you believe that God is unhappy with your performance.
Another example of using intimidation to control others was the time I had asked my ex to read a manuscript I had been writing. I had been writing a book, which is now published and in distribution, and the type written material was in a large, thick, heavy binder. Why I turned to him to read the material is beyond me. It is called co-dependency, because you want your abuser to say something nice to you or even be proud of your accomplishments. I wanted my ex to read the material because the pastor of the church we were going to, was preaching the same thing I was writing about and I was excited because God was confirming all around us what He was showing me and giving me to write. I felt that my ex, the abuser, was missing out on the excitement and I wanted to share this with him. He would not read the manuscript. Then he would say that it was nice but too lengthy and people will lose interest. I asked him several times after being ignored for weeks. Finally, when he sat down to really read the manuscript, he immediately started correcting it and rewording it to read as he thought it should read. I asked him not to correct. He said that he was helping me and saving me a step by doing this and he kept insisting on rewriting and correcting the manuscript. I kept insisting that he not "help" me and that I wanted the book to be done as the Lord directed. I told Him that I wanted him to read the book for the content only. He became very angry and argumentative when I kept insisting that he not "help" me "fix" the book. He threw the heavy binder down on the table in front of me spewing the contents everywhere. He said that if he couldn't "fix" the book, and "help", then he didn't want to read it. The abuser, my ex, from here on out called "the abuser", has a very chronic, bad habit of "fixing" and "helping" us. Nothing we do is right. They always has a better way of doing things and if you don't do things his way or take his advice, he uses the intimidation methods of control or he resorts to shaming and belittling you. I couldn't even unload the dishwasher right in our home. He saw a better way to do it and insisted on "helping" me do it a better way. When you are always being "fixed", "helped" and "controlled", the constant unspoken relational message you keep getting is "You are stupid, incapable, and incompetent. You can't do anything right. I am smarter, better and above you in all ways." It is a form of putting others down so that they can feel better about themselves.
Anyway, the abuser has thrown things, pounded his fist on things and used glares and gestures to cause his family to fear him in order to control them, yet he can't understand why we fear him. When you throw things, pound your fist, etc. the unspoken message that is being communicated loud and clear is: "This could or will be you I am hitting next if you don't do what I want". After divorce papers had been filed and I was no longer staying in the home as long as the abuser was there, the abuser threatened to get rid of my pets or suffocate them with his body to make it look like the animals died of natural causes if I left the house. He used to put a nail in between his knuckles and punch my horses in order to get them to do what he wanted, yet he doesn't consider himself abusive. He wouldn't want you to mention this or say it out loud to anyone and I say, "If you are not doing something wrong, why can't we say it out loud"? My abuser is also a third degree black belt in karate, and used that to intimidate, control and instill fear in his family. The terrible thing is that he is the one that does all these crazy things but makes me believe I am the crazy one! It's my fault he is miserable! It's my fault that he feels so much pain! It's my fault he cusses me out! It's my fault that things spin out of control in his sick little world! When he gets to his Mr. Nice stage and I don't respond with love and affection I am the one withholding love! It's my fault that he "works like a dog to provide all the things I enjoy" and he gets no appreciation(code word for SEX). Yes, they make you believe you are crazy! Did I mention they crave SEX in order to feel in control?
Next we will talk about how abusers use controlled measures of Emotional Abuse and how it affects our mental process as women who are caring by nature-by the way they love CARING WOMEN BECAUSE WE ARE SO EASY TO MANIPULATE:
This is only a part of what is to come...
See you next blog,