Friday, October 30, 2015

why narcissistic abusers pick the worst times of your life to inflict pain and do damage

name of cartoon: "Narc Happiness"
image is © Lise Winne

If you are being abused at the worst point of your life, your abuser probably has a personality disorder (most likely either Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder).

According to licensed social worker Bree Bonchay from her post The Timing And Motivation Behind Why Most Narcissists Discard Their Partners:

I have heard many stories where narcissists have dumped their partners right before a major holiday, or their partner’s birthday, or after their partner shared something very personal, or right before a special planned event, or when their partner was down on their luck, or grieving the loss of a loved one or even diagnosed with a serious illness and the list continues.

The narcissist will purposely choose the most heartless and shocking time in your life to discard you. They thrive off kicking you when you’re down. This increases the odds that you will come completely unhinged by the cruelty of their cold-blooded actions and sheer surprise of your expulsion ...

In short, it is because they get off on being cruel, and the more pain you express, the more they like it. It is called "narcissistic supply". Abusers are, in general, morally insane (unless they have learned the behavior). They usually plan discards for awhile. From the same article:

It gives them a temporary rush. Watching your heart break with agony is literally intoxicating to them. It’s the equivalent to a hit of cocaine. Their behavior, post discard, may appear almost manic as they become drunk in their own premeditated ego boost ...

... If you’ve been discarded, most likely it’s a tribute to your strength. You started seeing through their charade. You began challenging the narcissist on their lies and hypocrisy. You saw their mask slip and caught a glimpse of the evil, phony person that they have been hiding from you. At that point, you’re no longer a good source of supply. Your expiration date has arrived. Your inkling or glimpse of the truth of what has been hiding behind the mask cancels and invalidates the deluded image the narcissist has of themselves. Their cover has been blown and to survive they need to discard you so they don’t have to acknowledge the reality of their real, flawed self. To acknowledge the truth of their real-self would shatter the narcissist into smithereens from which they could never recover.

A lot of narcissistic abusers think they are smarter than others because they can fool others. Pulling the wool over others' eyes is largely why they feel superior. They have pretended to love you, to care about you, to enjoy your company, but inside they are thinking, "Sucker!!!! How stupid that they fell for that!! Ha, ha!" Or at least that is what a lot of narcissists admit to in forums.

It is kind of like a criminal mentality: trying to distract a shop keeper with accolades and good intentions while an accomplice cleans out the cash register.

But it is hard to understand the feelings of superiority that arise from acting like that, especially since most criminals get caught, or they have to live with the paranoia of getting caught on a daily basis.

It is like they purposely ride between two lanes on the superhighway of their life to cause a multi-car crash. Most of us think "sick-o" instead of "I admire him for being like that". People who build, are creative, who contribute big ideas, who are leaders of causes, are, by and large, the people we look up to in our society, not the people who pull others down, lie, cheat and enjoy watching destruction. Sure, destroyers get to be on TV if they've caused the unlawful variety, which is one part of the short-lived ego boost, but they are also derided and put away in prison for a long time, and some of them are lethally injected too. So it is hard to understand.

It is probably only understandable to someone who studies crocodiles: they look placid, then surprise attack, pull the victim in, drown them and trap them, feed on them and stash some of the meat away for another time. But having a predatory reptilian mind is superiority? Ew.

But perhaps that is part of the personality disorder to feel so arrogant and self satisfied from being glib, swindling, lying and damaging, traits most of us would be ashamed to have.

While the rest of the 99 percent of the population are in relationships for genuine reasons, to give and receive love, to intimately share life's struggles and to help one another, narcissistic abusers are never in relationships for those reasons. Most of these abusers keep as much of their own information as they can close to the chest while peppering others with questions and demands for disclosures and enmeshment, all the while planning on how to control the other person. Relationships to them are cat-and-mouse games, where winning something unfairly is all that matters to them.

So, many abusers feel victims are stupid for falling for lies, manipulations and sweet talk. A narc abuser might feel superior that you followed his bad advice so unquestioningly and innocently. He might feel superior because you didn't catch him at his lies right away. He might feel superior because you relied on him for some reason. And he might feel that you deserve to be abused because of it all, for being so dimwitted, innocent and so sensitive. Since narcissists are relatively dry emotionally (except for narcissistic rages and jealousy), they see sensitivity as a weakness, rather than as a good trait that has kept most of us from acting like Hitler when we feel slighted.

It is easier, but cowardly, for a narcissist to hurt you when you are down. It is evil and craven to get a high from the fact that you are preoccupied with grief and trauma, and that he added to it. The reason why he thinks it is so much fun? He thinks you will not be as likely to put up a strong resistance and counter-offensive to being abused by him, that you'll be an endless supply for his control, erroneous blaming, emotional expression and abuses. He thinks you will allow yourself to be abused because you are so weak! He thinks weakness gives him a chance to wield ever more power over you.

Don't ever share your personal struggles, personal information, health, plans or your financial status with anyone who has purposely hurt you in this way. Don't share much with people who know the abusers either. Abusers use love bombing to pump information from others, using a variety of techniques and tactics (sweet talk, promises of nondisclosure, gifts, etc).

Find a way to be completely self sufficient so that you will not be abused again.

You may very well be dealing with a narcissist, or worse, a sociopath.

And yes, narcissists can be dangerous. My post about that is HERE.

Are there adult bullies? Sure there are. I found this post about adult bullying by Claire Hunnam who described being bullied after her father passed away. Here is an excerpt:

I’ve encountered a whole host of adult bullies in my life, but none so obvious as the few who popped up after my dad passed away last year and taught me some serious lessons about handling jerks. I was fortunate — when he passed away, nearly everyone I love rushed forward to provide assistance and amazed me with the depths of their kindness. Sadly, though, grief and chaos bring out the true colors of the more destructive among us as well ...

More about unsolicited enmeshment, giving advice, lecturing, one adult punishing another adult, and trying to teach lessons through rewards and punishment in the abusive family in another post coming soon. And, yes, all abusive families use these practices in spades. It is important for survivors of family abuse to set up stringent boundaries against these practices to make their lives and homes bully-proof and to bar any more bullies from getting in.

other posts to look at for further reading:

Why Narcissistic People Love to Ruin Birthdays and Holidays from the Narcissists, Sociopaths and Flying Monkeys -- Oh My! blog

Why Narcissistic People Love to Ruin Birthdays and Holidays by Linda Greyman from The Mind's Journal

another post with the same title: Why Narcissistic People Love to Ruin Birthdays and Holidays from Health Cure


Narcissistic people ruin holidays and birthdays by refusing to be pleased -- from the Narcissists, Sociopaths and Flying Monkeys -- Oh My! blog

Here is one of three videos that support what I have been saying about narcissists attacking you when you are going through the most devastating period of your life:

This video tells you how to heal from it by putting an end to the trauma bond, staying in the present and distancing yourself from the abuser (words by Kim Saeed, narrated by Eva Gray):

 Here is the other video that goes into a little more depth about being abused and treated as prey when you are going through devastating life events by Begood4000 (a screen name):

I belong to a forum and the question was put out why narcissists enjoy being miserable and hurting others. The 105 answers were all pretty similar. Here are a few examples (identifiable sources not used):

* "They love hurting others whether their targets are feeling on top of the world or in the midst of a tragedy. The last time I was in the middle of a heartbreaking event, my narc mother relished, and I mean RELISHED, giving me the silent treatment for months. She tried to tell me she was hurt over something extremely insignificant in the middle of my tragedy even after I apologized! Suuuuure! She couldn't stand that my tragedy had to do with something else besides her, that's what it was! They are in love with their ability to effect others in drastic ways, and that means either rescuing poor hungry waifs, only to punish them later when they fatten up and get happy, or throwing a wrench in their target's success, or beating up their target emotionally when their targets are scared and unhappy over a devastating event. What ever they can do to make the biggest impact and bring attention to themselves is what they do! It's ALWAYS about them, don't forget that!"

* "Their whole psychosis depends on making others miserable. I would be in a good mood, dancing, laughing and having fun, and my husband would know just the right words to bring me down. He loved to kill my spirit, my happy mood and to see me miserable. I used to wonder why someone who supposedly cared about me had to ruin my happiness and mood ALL THE TIME. Now I know why, since researching narcissism. They love living in their misery, their emotional squalor, while we move on to become happy, fulfilled, independent, enlightened people."

* "Their lives are more of a hell than we can ever imagine which is why they need to put their misery, their jealousy, their hatred on us. They probably feel they would feel better if they hurt someone. How depraved is that? It is so awful for them to feel so horrible, so insignificant, so impotent emotionally and spiritually, and it burdens them so, and the way to derive more happiness for themselves, they think, is to make someone else more miserable than they are! Misery loves company! It is why they're condescending jerks, because they can't stand knowing someone is more intelligent, fulfilled, successful and happy than they are. The only way they can seek to relieve their misery and insignificant existence is to make themselves appear better than others, even if that comparison was imposed by them through hurting another person! If others are more miserable than they are they can say they are happy, even when they aren't. They are jealous to the extreme of anything that portrays joy. I decided long ago that if I tried to stay in a relationship with them that I had to like being an unhappy martyr to some degree, otherwise I'd leave. So, I left. You can't make peace with this kind of crazy-making."

* "It must be hard for these chauvinistic misery-loving males to find women who put up with them. Most women are financially independent these days. Poor babies. So hard to find women to destroy!"

* "From these descriptions, they might be called the Happiness Vampires. They derive pleasure out of sucking the happiness out of others."


Friday, October 9, 2015

constant insults and criticism (verbal abuse), how to deal with them

name of illustration: "Verbal Abuse and C-PTSD"
image is © Lise Winne
(for questions regarding use of images or to contract an image for your next article
contact: LilacGroveGraphics (att)

Being around people who constantly criticize you, find fault with you, insult you, defame your character (verbal abuse), or try to teach you a lesson (inappropriate between adults if it is not solicited), can be very difficult to deal with. Most of these people think of themselves as superior to you, so however you respond will not be heard unless they hear that you agree with them. Many victims simply become silent: "I'm talking to a brick wall anyway. Why bother ..."

People who have Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder (which are all cluster B personality disorders), or who are active addicts and alcoholics with significant anger management issues, make up the majority of abusers in this country. People with these personality disorders are less likely to change how they behave (and they also overwhelmingly show that they don't want to either). Here are some basic reasons why:

*Active addicts and alcoholics: Active alcoholics with anger management issues tend to act narcissistically (see how and why narcissists verbally abuse below). Like narcissists, they cannot handle any criticism and tend to attack people who they think are criticizing them. However, they can be more violent, unpredictable, impulsive and unthinking than narcissists, especially when they are drunk. Addicts will almost always put their drug before any relationship. Ethics usually take a back seat to personal desires and needs. Many addicts sense that if they are being rewarded for being verbally abusive and manipulative, they will use it, especially if the topic includes their drug.

*Unenlightened borderlines cannot take a hint of a complaint or criticism. It is like the end of the world for them where they feel abandoned. They tend to be more verbally abusive (as well as emotionally abusive), than the general population. According to this article by A.J. Mahari: (The) core wound of abandonment, when one is very young and experiences it, is the experience of psychological death. It is intense and arouses the borderline to fight for survival while they experience the sheer terror of feeling like they might actually just die or be killed by what they are feeling. This heightened state of arousal is both psychological and biological – it is physiological. It is a strong drive to survive and rage is at its core. Rage is the most primal feeling generated and the most protective defense that a young infant can muster to try to have the caregiver return to once again provide some sense of being for the infant ... Feelings and reactions of rage are experienced by those who go on to develop BPD so early in life that they precede cognitive and verbal development. This is what makes borderline rage so primal, so intense, and in the case of the borderline so raw and unmanageable in terms of often triggered dysregulated emotion of those with BPD.

*Unenlightened narcissists make up the majority of narcissists because to be enlightened means to be willing to look as deeply within the self as outside the self. True intelligence means being able to honestly assess both. Narcissists cannot assess both. It is unclear whether they are incapable of it, or are unwilling to self reflect. Like borderlines, narcissists also cannot take a hint of a complaint or criticism. They do not try to understand themselves from other people's points of view. They will not admit, even a little, that they could be wrong. So they tend to react childishly to feeling wounded: they vehemently attack other people: they rage, deflect, berate, blame, shame and purposely hurt others. They attack other people's points of view even if they feel they have to lie to do it. They are highly resistant to therapy, anger management classes, couples counseling and family counseling (unless they are praised by a therapist, which is unlikely, given narcissists ruthless behavior). According to this Psychology Today article by Leon Seltzer, PhD, narcissists experience any hint or feeling of criticism as a grave injury to their core selves ("narcissistic injury" is the term for it). They then go into "narcissistic rage" where they attack their target personally, usually using a barrage of criticisms and insults (verbal abuse), and they can be emotionally and physically abusive too. According to the article:  (They have) this need to be viewed as perfect, superlative, or infallible that makes them so hypersensitive to criticism. And their typical reaction to criticism, disagreement, challenges-or sometimes even the mere suggestion that they consider doing something differently-can lead to the "narcissistic rage" that is another of their trademarks. To protect their delicate ego in the face of such intensely felt danger, they're decidedly at risk for going ballistic against their perceived adversary ... All of which indicates just how fragile their artificially bloated sense of self really is. Given the enormity of their defenses, they regard themselves not on a par with, but above others. Yet they're mortally threatened when anyone dares question their words or behavior ... they take great pains to devalue or invalidate the person criticizing them. To achieve such dismissal of the threatening other, they'll do everything possible to negate their viewpoint. And this can include much more than blaming or indignantly challenging them. For narcissists, when their position has been exposed as false, arbitrary, or untenable, will suddenly become evasive, articulate half-truths, lie (actually, as much to themselves as others), flat-out contradict themselves (and to a degree that can leave the other person gasping!), and freely rewrite history (literally--and audaciously--making things up as they go along). This is why at such times they don't seem adults so much as six-year-olds ... In short, they often become so brutal, and even dangerous in their abuses, that they are abandoned by others.

*Sociopaths are highly abusive no matter what the situation. These are not happy people, so they tend to be on the look-out for someone in their lives whom they can hurt. They tend to be abusive on all levels: verbally, emotionally and physically. According to the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision (DSM IV-TR) -- (Wikipedia link), defines antisocial personality disorder (Cluster B):[7]
A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:
... failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;
irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

*Psychopaths are like sociopaths except they can hold down jobs, pretend to fit in with society and they carefully plan hurtful, evil deeds, which may or may not include verbal abuse. Many studies indicate that psychopaths have a brain disorder, while sociopaths are a product of their environment.

*Some very insecure people are addicted to criticizing others. It makes them feel better about themselves if they can criticize and verbally diminish others. Once they become social outcasts, they are usually more willing to change their behavior than personality disordered human beings.

Abuse can be learned too, especially if the abuser's parent has or had a personality disorder. These are also the kinds of people who can change and are more willing to seek help. The impetus for change is usually the result of wanting to hold onto a personal relationship. The abuser no longer wants to be abusive. For people who want to sacrifice a need for power and control in order to be in intimate loving relationships, therapy can work wonders. Therapists have remarked at how trans-formative the process can be from going to a person who makes threats to a person who listens to others and expresses a desire to have both people's needs met.

But people who have learned abuse, can also be stubborn about wanting to change. How do you tell if someone is stubborn as opposed to open? By listening to their words. These are the kinds of words that tell you they don't want to change:

"I grew up with this kind of behavior and I came out okay."
"I grew up with this behavior and I'm not going to change now."
"I grew up where you had to be tough. So I'm tough. If you're not tough, you get trampled on."
"I am what I am, for better or worse."
"I grew up with this behavior and everyone seems to do it: it's normal! Get over it!"
"Sometimes I go off the deep end and let my temper get the better of me. I'm sorry. Maybe I'll do better next time" -- and then they don't do better next time.
"You're too sensitive. Get some street smarts, for goddsakes! It helps to toughen up!"
"If I went around and got sensitive over every insult, I'd be in the nut-house! You have to be able to take insults and that is all there is to it!"
"I have to insult you because you're a goddamn nutcase!"
"Comedians insult! It's part of our culture! Lump it or leave it!"
"I don't care if you don't like it! I have a right to insult you whenever I want to! And right now you deserve it!"

Victims of verbal abuse often find themselves in one of several roles:

1. Criticizing, insulting or retaliating right back to keep from shutting down in your personal relationship, to keep energized and defending against the abuse by going on the attack. And attacking can be a way to feel strong, invincible, intact. You shout over each other, verbally tear each other to shreds, compare each other to others or turn them into snakes or other lowly creatures, bring out "extras" like what happened in a past argument, educate yourself for your side of the argument or defense. You can also get out your fists if you want to over-power them some more (turning the fight into a domestic violence incident). But you only attack them and insult them if they start verbally tearing you down or insulting you first, right? "Giving it right back" definitely can help you have a sense of autonomy from the one who attacked you by putting you on the same level as they are, like equal weight fighters in a boxing ring. Like lawyers, you can fight for your positions, even persuade a jury, and if all else fails, find some flaw in the other person that you can attack endlessly every time you think you need to win your side of the argument.

The only problem is that fighting fire with fire sets up a situation where your partner gets bruised and you get bruised too. You both go around in pain by what the other person has done. Then soon after that, fear of each other enters the relationship too, creating feelings of avoidance of the other person. It destroys the intimacy little by little and the two people become "indifferent" to each other (for more, read my blog post about how relationships are destroyed: from ego, indifference or abuse).

Why is indifference so bad? It is what divorces and permanent separations are made of. Have you ever studied a relationship where the two people are insulting each other every time they have an argument? They become indifferent to each other's perspectives, right? They shout over each other. They are mostly only interested in attack and/or persuasion, right? They are only interested in their side of the argument.

It is like building up an army. They have their walls, their trenches, their armor, their ways of defending and ways of attacking, and so do you. The strategy might change over time, but basically every difference or argument is a war.

This is what can happen when dealing with two people who have learned abuse in their childhoods. These relationships and behaviors can change, but only if both people want to change. Therapy can make the process go a little faster because you have a third party picking up on all of the unhealthy ways the two people are relating to each other and making suggestions to change it.

With personality-disordered individuals, the process of asking the disordered person to stop being abusive is practically impossible. They can't even think of other alternatives to the destructive fight fire with fire dance. With borderlines and narcissists, you cannot even hint at a complaint without getting a strong over-reaction. Borderlines have been known to become awash in extremes of emotions over criticism. They often go through a gamut of emotions like anger, rage, retaliation, wailing, breaking or ripping up precious mementos that bring up memories of their beloved and the past they shared together, and feeling suicidal at the end of it all, as though they will shrivel up and die over the criticism. They have also been known to falsify stories and slander their loved ones to win their side of the argument, and that adds a whole other dimension to the jury they seek. Narcissists, on the other hand, react to criticism in a more cold and scheming way. They retaliate wildly at any hint of criticism. Their favorite weapon of choice is a prolonged silent treatment (which is one of the more damaging and nefarious emotional abuses). During their silent treatments away from you, they usually try to hurt you in other ways too: by using the time to have fun (used to provoke the victim: i.e. "I am having fun, and you aren't, and I don't care if you are suffering", a very childish and hurtful kind of reaction to a conflict), through lies and slander, through scheming, by betraying you through cheating on you or becoming intimate with your enemies, by withdrawing all affection, through divide and conquer strategies, through enlisting other bullies to take you down (so that they can blame their co-bully if things go wrong), in addition to insulting you and lecturing you to make sure you understand that they are superior to you (at least in their own minds). They also like to play the victim, accuse you of what they are guilty of.

While normal adults can learn bad behaviors from narcissists, especially if they grew up with them, the difference is that normal adults are usually able to self reflect. Most narcissists are totally inept at self reflection and run away from any situation where they are being asked to use it. Furthermore, they love insulting others because it makes them feel energized, omnipotent, and most importantly, superior (their life goal), while feeding off of the pain and emotions of their victims, which is like food for their unfeeling cold souls.

Borderlines and narcissists are often abandoned because they cannot fight fair, and narcissists have also been known to go in for the kill as much as they can get away with, without breaking the law.

As for the antisocial personality disordered (sociopaths), they don't care what others think or feel, and they don't care if they break the law either, as long as they can inflict harm and damage on their subjects.

Be aware that breaking the law can be as simple as false imprisonment; like barring you from leaving their lecturing/blaming/shaming session, for instance. However, many sociopaths are capable of more criminal behavior than that, and usually escalate criminality and abuse if they don't get what they want.

Usually you can tell the difference between sociopaths and narcissists by how they react when they hurt you.

Narcissists will pretend to care about your hurt feelings down the road (after they have punished you and hurt you enough with their silent treatment). They pretend to care for one reason: to get back into your life for more narcissistic supply. Narcissistic supply refers to getting sated by more flattery and enjoying and scheming how to control you via the wheel of abuse.

Sociopaths, on the other hand, hardly ever show care if they hurt you, except as a ruse to lure you into danger, i.e. to abuse you some more, entrap you and ensnare you, and keep you from leaving until they have you under their total control, listening to their demands and ultimatums, using fear and intimidation to get what they want.

Narcissists get off mostly on flattery whereas sociopaths mostly get off on fear. Sociopaths feel increasingly entitled to hurt you the more you resist being lured into their trap to abuse you. Scheming ways to hurt you and get away with it can overwhelm their minds.

If you fight fire with fire with these kinds of individuals, you can end up dead, injured, your property destroyed, or with debilitating PTSD (robotic, depressed, difficulty functioning simple tasks, isolating yourself, traumatic recurring nightmares, extreme passivity, disassociation, hypervigilence, suicide ideation) or Stockholm Syndrome (loving and/or worshiping an abuser to survive abuse). That is why abandoning them is mostly your only option and it is what most victims prefer anyway, because a life of happiness, fulfillment, and joy does not come from abuse, or even the highs and lows of the cycle of abuse.

As for fighting fire with fire with alcoholics, Alanon strongly advises against this. As I have mentioned before, alcoholics can act narcissistic-ally, plus they are also impaired in their judgement. They often see animosity in others when there isn't any. Attacking back when a loved one is alcohol-impaired and verbally assaulting you is dangerous. They are very unlikely to hear any reason, or to hear you at all. They can take everything you say and any look you give as an act of aggression.

Fighting fire with fire is a mutually abusive relationship. Verbal abuse, belittling, being mean, constant chiding, constant verbal put-downs (even in humor), isn't attractive in either the person who initiated it, or the person who used it to retaliate. Unless you want to live like the Jerry Springer Show in your personal and family relationships, there is no other way than to seek a better solution and way of life either by getting out of the relationship, or by both parties committing to a different non-abusive way of relating to one another.

You don't have any more integrity than your abuser, no matter how many barbs and insults you throw back at your abuser. Nothing is accomplished where neither party is listening to or agreeing with one another and the only thing that matters is scorching your loved one by attacking him or her in defense of yourself.

Additionally, if one of you starts backing down, and closing the other out, or acting passively, or appearing flat and emotion-less, these are signs of PTSD. All of the fighting makes brain chemicals react to the onslaught of constant threat and the stress it creates.

The intimacy is being killed right before your very eyes.

Battlefields do not make for healthy environments.

2. Going along to get along.  Say you are being verbally abused on a constant basis and you do not react to it, or almost always try to react reasonably and agreeably to it, then what happens?

One way or another, the road to mutual indifference is still likely to happen.

Sometimes people practice passivity because they do not want to be engaged in conflict. Perhaps it is because they feel disgusted with themselves if they act like abusers and bulldozers after their own agendas. Perhaps they've been brought up to be considerate of others' feelings, to be polite at all times, to appeal to the goodness of all people, to love your enemies.

At any rate, they already know that tearing their loved one down verbally will not garner good results.

So they try their best to appease.

Perhaps they stay in the relationship for the kids, or because they view marriage as an eternal union by their religion, or they've invested so much time and energy into it that they aren't ready to bail even though it has become a nightmare. Or they believe that their partner should come first before all others, no matter how badly they act. Or they appeal to their partner for better treatment, i.e. they try to get their partners to give up the bad habit of insulting them and hurting them. Maybe the abusive partner hears you say that you are hurt by their words and makes efforts to change. Maybe they don't.

Perhaps passivity is a way to feel more holy; i.e. like a good or saintly martyr.

Except being a martyr to the constant onslaught of verbal abuse can create a constant state of suffering and depression. You may get PTSD or C-PTSD whether you react kindly or not to verbal abuse and put-downs. (for more on why being a martyr is bad for you and bad for the verbal abuser go to my posts, If You Are Good and Show Altruism and Magnanimity, Will That Keep You From Being Abused? and Forgiving Abusers: the "You're Better Than That" Family Culture That Expects Victims of Familial Abuse to Make Up With Their Abuser.

Sometimes people who have been scapegoated by their family of origin or brought up by a borderline, narcissistic or sociopath parent learn passivity because fighting back brings extreme forms of punishment. Parents with personality disorders usually punish their children more often and severely. Punishments can range from a child being isolated for long periods of time, toys destroyed, a child's goals sabotaged, precious possessions being taken from them, erroneous guilt trips and punishments (like being reprimanded and disciplined for "that look on your face" for instance), expecting the child to be happy when they are sad, deprivation, neglect, favoritism of a "sycophant golden child" which can set up a situation of sibling abuse (see my blog posts about sibling abuse here and here ... another post about Favoritism in the Family is also relevant). Indeed all manner of emotional or physical abuse can be practiced by a parent. See this post for a list of emotional child abuses.

People with personality disorders also have a habit of lying to justify their actions and make themselves look better than they really are, an extra challenge for a small child.

Being groomed to take abuse, which is what happens when a child is scapegoated, means the child has learned to react to abuse by either shutting down, cowering, disassociating and living with constant PTSD (C-PTSD). Abusive parents have been known to use the symptoms of PTSD in the child to explain to others that his child is crazy or a little off, thereby justifying more abuse. Disordered parents are notorious for using gaslighting too to cover up their abuses and lies by making the child look like someone who can't decipher or speak about reality. C-PTSD is even more pronounced if there is chronic sibling or sexual abuse. The child's only other choice (and I do mean only) is to become a real-life marionette to his disordered parent.

Scapegoats are less like marionettes than their other siblings however; that is why they are scapegoated.

The golden "favorite" child is the more likely boot-licker and many goldens mimic their parent's disorder (as the highest form of flattery) in order to receive special privilege. Golden children, however, can also be severely punished, because so much more is expected of them. It is hard to be a full time marionette no matter how golden you are, to never slip up on your super-sensitive-to-any-criticism parent, to never be allowed an autonomous thought or action, to sacrifice your spouse or children for the parent, to praise your parent at every turn even when you know they are wrong, to go along with lies and slander, to be quiet when you want to speak up, to be willing to bully and slander others at a moment's notice at their request even if you don't want to, to agree to everything they want at all times, to follow their advice about your own life even when you know they are saying it to sabotage you (a sabotaged child is a weak child, is a more desperate child, is more likely to be a sycophant out of desperation). Golden children are more likely to get Stockholm Syndrome than family scapegoats. But, looking through forums, it is clear the greater majority of golden children abandon their disordered parents like the prior family scapegoats have done, even if they are the last of their siblings to do so.

Why? Because if there aren't any scapegoats left, they become scapegoated too (the parent alternates between scapegoating and idealizing). Goldens aren't used to that, so they can walk away without ever looking back! Many goldens are fellow narcissists and grew up feeling "more entitled" than their siblings. They feel entitled to a privileged life without burdens, and if all of the other siblings are out of the picture, no other sibling is around to protest how the parent is treated or abandoned.

As for reacting to passivity to people with severe personality disorders, as I have said, children of these kinds of parents get C-PTSD, so why would anyone want to voluntarily be in a relationship of this kind? No amount of their being handsome or a beautiful knock-out, no amount of money, no amount of "special privileges", no amount of great sex or family connections, no amount of putting up with abuse is worth it! It is like working for a cult leader or tyrannical boss. Fear, abandoning your dreams, your dignity, your autonomy, your sense of right and wrong, your thoughts, and saying "yes" to many forms of immorality (giving up your soul), living through deafening abusive silent treatments, being willing to put up with someone who enjoys hurting others, is the price of being involved with a severely disordered person.

As for family scapegoats, they can often find themselves in other relationships with disordered individuals as they go through life. Why? Familiarity! Plus they are used to being expected to go along to get along. Their families have groomed them to take abuse and all blame for everything that goes wrong in relationships. Until scapegoats realize they are in a bad pattern of accepting narcissistic and sociopath lovers, spouses and friends in their life, and that abuse isn't their fault, they often feel they can't escape abuse. It just keeps showing up again and again. Additionally, narcissistic and sociopath predators have a way of sniffing out scapegoated prey and family "rejects" as an easy way to get the narcissistic supply they so desperately want. Scapegoats who end up going to a therapist often wake up to what their family has done to them, and find they can break the cycle.

From reading forums, it is clear that most scapegoats feel they must sacrifice their families and go off on their own. Narcissistic parents are especially known for punishing and rejecting children who do not completely disclose every aspect of their lives to the narcissistic parent. It doesn't matter if the child is 60! Failure to disclose brings about retaliation. It is impossible to trust a narcissist, so the scapegoat most often will not be willing to disclose which sets up the conflict. Some scapegoats manage a relationship with their narc parent by putting up stringent boundaries: only discussions about gardening, cooking, travel, etc and absolutely NO discussions about personal, financial, professional or health matters. Some narcissists are willing to accept the boundaries just to keep the child on a tentative string (just in case), but most are not.

Breaking the cycle of being in relationships with a series of abusers for a person who has learned to accept abuse via the scapegoat role from his family, means more grieving and severing relationships for a scapegoat. Many scapegoats who are in therapy are willing to go through painful breakups for the sake of a better life and the hope of a better future for their own children. It is like leaving an oppressive tyrannical country as a refugee and making a better life for yourself in a new democratic country. Sometimes you leave abusers with as little as a refugee too, with the clothes on your back.

Statistically, scapegoats endure more poverty than their peers, and certainly more than their other siblings, but they often end up as the most successful in their family of origin if their self esteem has not been totally shattered, because they were the least willing to become controlled and enslaved by a punishing parent. They had more strength to fight for themselves than their siblings did, and they find more strength to fight for a better life than their siblings too. Scapegoats often have no family support at all when they become adults.

The goldens have support, and often a lot of it, but are not so lucky in being the chosen one in other regards. They competed with their siblings to get to "the privileged spot", sometimes by bullying their siblings out of the way, not knowing that in order to be there they would have to please their parent at every turn and at every whim, no matter whether the expectations were reasonable or not. Many give up everything to be in that coveted spot, to take on anything, including the abuse of their parent, just to get something out of the parent, only to find they, too, are discarded along with the scapegoats. Alternatively, they sometimes sacrifice so much for the parent, they find that they are too heavily burdened by that parent, to the point where they cannot have a single autonomous thought or sustain themselves.

Scapegoats in therapy learn not to go along to get along with insults and verbal abuse by either extricating, putting up boundaries, or working with loved ones who are willing to change the dynamic. You can too.

3. "Don't treat me that way." What happens in this instance? You aren't putting up with being verbally abused and being criticized at every turn, and you aren't trying to fight fire with fire; you are letting a verbally abusive person know that you do not want to be treated badly and that they need to change their behavior.

This is fine if the abuser is willing to change their behavior, but be aware that many abusers are not willing to change. Why? Because most abusers have a personality disorder and many personality disorders are rigid and intransigent.

It is worth a try, and if they refuse to treat you better, you can always end the relationship.

"Don't treat me that way" is a much healthier way to react to verbal abuse, and it is the way most people react to abuse. Most people have been raised in loving homes and have been taught good boundaries by their parents. Most people do not put up with abuse.

One reason abused victims get PTSD and C-PTSD is because they are in situations of abuse they cannot effect. They are helpless to the onslaught of abuses and/or violence, so their brain tries to protect itself by reacting in a certain way.

When you say, "Don't treat me that way." "Don't talk to me that way." "You are not to insult me again." "What don't you understand when I say I will not engage with you on that level?" "You are not to go further with these threats and insults." -- it puts the control the abuser wants to take from you back into your hands.

The abuser has one choice: to treat you with respect, dignity, as a fellow human being, with care and concern, with politeness. If he isn't capable of that, then you can go to the next step (which is what healthy, non-co-dependent people usually do who have been brought up to make good boundaries): bailing out on relationships that are abusive.

4. Bailing on the relationship. If you are choosing this way of dealing with someone who is being verbally abusive, or criticizing you ad-nauseum (especially if they are using criticism to control and dominate you or ruin your reputation), make sure you will not feel guilty about it later. Make sure you mean to do it permanently. Do not give the silent treatment, hoping that they will come around as the silent treatment is a relationship-buster and you are just throwing another form of abuse back at them (the silent treatment is one of the worse forms of emotional abuse). Very few relationships survive the silent treatment. See my post about the silent treatment is abuse! for more information.

Remember: rejecting others is permanent. Even in the best case scenario, where the other person returns after therapy and a good attitude about treating you better (with respect), they will probably always carry some resentment and distrust when it comes to you.

Rejecting others because their behavior is so bad, so abusive, and so unchangeable is a good option though, and you should definitely be open to it.

But there are some other options you can try before you get to the point where you permanently get the verbal abuser out of your life.

Ultimatums about behavior can sometimes work such as:
"I suspect your verbal abuse is coming out of your alcohol addiction. When you are completely dry and have been in treatment, give me a call, and perhaps we can pick up then."
"I will not be verbally abused any longer. If you go to therapy and go to some anger management classes, perhaps we can pick up the relationship at that point."
"I cannot be in a verbally abusive relationship. If you would like to change your behavior, give me a call then."
"I would like to work with you, but I feel you are criticizing me over too many things. I can only respond to one request at a time (and I hope these are requests, not demands, not a permanent state of being criticized continually). If you are willing to work with me on a solution that will be beneficial for both of us, give me a call at that time."
"I suspect your verbal abuse is learned behavior. If you have any desire to change this behavior, give me a call and we'll both try to hammer out a solution."

There is also going "low contact" (LC): seeing each other a couple of times a year, not getting into heavy subjects, just giving one sentence answers when they ask how you are doing, keeping to uncontroversial subjects.

If that fails, there is "very low contact" (VLC): not seeing them unless it is absolutely necessary, keeping phone calls short, maybe a card or two once or twice a year, refusing to discuss any personal subjects.

LC and VLC are often used by many survivors of narcissistic parents. You may have to be in situations where you have contact with them, even if you don't want to see them. You also realize they cannot change. "Low contact" is a way to avoid them mostly, and ensures that subjects where they can construe or misconstrue criticism out of what you are saying cannot easily happen. You just keep to conversations to subjects like nature, cooking, decorating and travel. Many therapists recommend to patients of narcissistic abuse that they adopt VLC or LC. This makes family get-togethers possible, and where they are not so likely to attack you because the subjects are so banal and uninteresting (gray rock discussions). Narcissists like to be praised, so you can always tell them how nice they look and they might feel satisfied with that enough to leave you alone. Remember to ask those family members you are close to not to transfer information to the narcissists who have hurt you in the past, as many narcissists like to use information for nefarious purposes.

Other phrases that are either verbally abusive or that border on verbal abuse:
"You make my skin crawl."
"You drive me crazy."
"Your cooking sucks."
"I'm not in the mood to take shit from you."
"I really don't care what you think."
"I can't stand you right now."
"All I need is some peace from you."
"I hate you when you wear that dress."
"You drive me crazy with that music! Can't you play anything right?"
"I hate you when you do that! You are sooooo irritating!"
"I'm not in the mood for you. Leave me the fuck alone!"
"I don't want to discuss this!" on a consistent basis, especially if there is no history of abuse in the relationship.
"I don't have time for this! I need this done! Now! I can't deal with your problems! Figure out how to deal with your own problems! I have enough of my own!"
Always and never statements on a consistent basis:
"You are always late no matter what. Can't you get your shit together?"
"You never can function. You're always sick. I get sick and tired of this."
"You always start arguments after sex. Can't you ever just cuddle afterwards like normal married couples do?"
"You always forget!"
"Why can you never do things right?"
"It looks like I'll always have to live with you doing this" or "like this."
"It looks like you'll never change your habits."
"You always make a big deal out of nothing."
"You never want to please me; all you care about is yourself."
"You always were bad; now you've proven it for good."
"You can never do anything I ask you to do."
"I'm tired of you always thinking about that!"
"You'll never amount to anything; you have always been a failure." (destructive, abusive)
"Are you ever going to snap out of this? I'm tired of you always being out of it."
"I always take care of you! You have no right to complain!"
"You always put others before me! What about me?"
"You'll never fix that wall! I guess I'll have to do it! Thanks!"
"Why do you always put the heat up when I want it down? Don't you know you are ruining the environment with this energy consumption? Get with the program! I've said this a million times!"

Any combination of these on a regular, constant basis (every day or every other day) can anesthetize your partner against your perspectives and concerns because they are an onslaught of insensitivity: either outright mean or border-line mean.

Always and never statements on a constant basis are what many personality disordered people use as they are typically black and white thinkers. They don't weigh things. They don't investigate thoroughly. They tend to go with how they feel when they judge situations or people rather than by facts and research. They think something or someone is all good or all bad, all or nothing, all your fault and not my fault at all, all your doing and I didn't contribute to it at all, it's got to be all my agenda and not your agenda at all, my perspectives are all important and yours aren't at all.  Some of us may have learned to use always-never phrases by growing up with a parent who used them. If we are willing to self reflect and see how and why we use these phrases, and make steps to remove them from our present dialogue, then we can make our relationships better too.

As for complaining, why is constant complaining detrimental to our relationships? Because most people can only deal with one complaint at a time, or a week. They have to spend time processing the complaint and think about how they are going to address it (which means either fixing it, ignoring it, putting it aside to take care of bigger problems, or deciding it is not worth fixing at all).

For instance, if everything in a vehicle needs fixing, the vehicle is flawed; it is hardly worth the time and energy to fix it. If you are rattling off a hundred complaints, and you are not giving your mechanic time to write it all down, he will think of you as someone who likes to complain, rather than as a someone who has legitimate issues that need addressing.

Too much complaining about hundreds of issues, especially if the complaints are directed personally towards a partner you live with can make your partner shut down. It can also effect the self esteem of your partner. Lack of self esteem does not produce a can-do attitude in them. This is true especially if the complaining is severe, and much more prevalent than the praising. Alternatively, sometimes partners of complainers keep their self esteem intact by taking their partner's constant complaining with a grain of salt, through avoidance. They half-hear their partner rattling off the complaint-of-the-day, for instance. In that case they might feel that the constant complaining is an irritant they feel they need to put up with, but which they don't feel is in dire need of addressing. The lesson? Use complaints wisely, without overwhelming your partner.

Complaining, being mean, using too many always and never phrases can kill the intimacy, and may even kill the relationship. Even if you are in a committed relationship, it can make your relationship seem like you are roommates rather than two people who love each other and enjoy being around each another.

Research and links:

Patricia Evans has written extensively on verbal abuse. Her books on verbal abuse and controlling relationships on Amazon are HERE. She also has videos on You Tube HERE.

If You’re Saying These 5 Things, You’re Hurting Your Kid  -- Psych Central article by Peg Streep

What are signs that the verbal abuse is escalating to physical abuse -- Help Guide

What are signs that the verbal abuse is escalating to physical abuse? -- Yahoo answers

Signs you are verbally abused: part one
Signs you are verbally abused: part two

Some ideas on how to shush a constant fault-finder

Dr. Phil: are you a fault-finder? -- he also discusses "always and never" phrases

Oprah Winfrey: Verbal Abuse: How to Save Yourself

Ways to handle criticism

Why are People Mean? -- Psychology Today article

Always and Never Phrasing -- from Out of the Fog Website

The Cumulative Effect of Narcissistic Abuse -- by Lenora Thompson (talks about the cumulative effect of digs, insults, shaming on children of abusive narcissistic parents)
Why Narcissists Need You to Feel Bad About Yourself -- a study reveals that people with high self esteem usually perceive others favorably, but those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder compare others negatively to themselves, often using insults and focusing on flaws.

I found this on facebook and thought it was powerful. It is a drawing by Jenna Simon.
  "They're Just Words", © artwork by Jenna Simon, 2015

from healthyplace:

Here is a video I found on verbal abuse with a song called "Mad World" by Donnie Darko. The video is by ParodyWisp (screen name):

Remember children:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Forgiving abusers: the "You're better than that" family culture that expects victims of familial abuse to make up with their abuser

name of cartoon: "Take on a Little More Abuse"
image is © Lise Winne
(for questions regarding use of images or to contract an image for your next article
contact: LilacGroveGraphics (att)

I have asked myself this question many times when it comes to all issues of abuse whether it is school bullying, sibling bullying, family scapegoating and everything inbetween.

One of the big reasons for not making up with bullies and abusers is that all perpetrators generally escalate abuse and violence (even when there are laws against violence!)

There are signs that it is getting dangerous. Like: the perpetrator has been verbally and emotionally abusing you for awhile (see my post on What are Types of Abuse). The warning signs of physical abuse are: blocking a door so that you have to walk around them, pushing and shoving, leaning into your personal space to lecture you, leading you, pushing or pulling you, giving you ultimatums or orders while touching you, stealing from you, destroying personal property, dominating the decisions about personal property, pulling an implement out of your hand, snatching a telephone away from you, raging at you with clenched fists, false imprisonment (being kept from leaving or being made to go somewhere against your will), et al, that is the very beginning of the physical abuse stage. It escalates very fast from there.

If a perpetrator also drinks or uses drugs: watch out!

Abusers don't respect boundaries. They don't respect you. Making up with abusers can equate to ending up badly injured or dead.

Then there are the family advisers:
* "Well, if you just said things a little more softly, he might not blow up at you."
* "If you just gave him what he wanted, then he wouldn't have pushed you."
* "He was the one who was right. You were the one who was wrong. I'll tell you how you can get a better outcome ..."
* "He can lose his temper like anyone can; it's mainly how you deal with it."
* "I'm sorry you are so hurt by your brother. Maybe you should go to a therapist to feel better." (good advice, by the way, except therapists will advise you to end relationships with abusers -- and then your family may call your therapist a cult leader! -- it happens!)
* "I brought the two of you up to play nice. Now, I know you know how to do that. You apologize to him first, then maybe he will apologize to you."
* "No. Something has to be wrong with you because we brought him up to be a nice young boy who is always considerate and sweet to others. So, my dear, that means you must do the hard work of mending this fence." -- with the insinuation that you must mend the fence, that not having contact with your abuser is not an option
* "He wouldn't act this way unless you had done something. We have no problem with him. If you go to therapy and learn how to deal with other people, by -- what is it called? -- conflict resolution? -- then this relationship wouldn't be so hard for you. I'm sorry you're in such pain over it, sweetie, but you really, really need to get this in perspective!"
* "I know he hurt you, but can't you just be the reasonable sweet person we have always known you to be and put aside all of the fighting and pain and drama?"
* "I just don't understand why you can't just forgive and forget. Maybe if you go to church, you'll learn that forgiveness brings great reward and peace of mind."
* "You know, yoga and meditation really helped me to be calm and talk without so much emotion! If you feel hurt, just practice a little meditation and you'll feel better. That should help your relationship too."
* "If you send her a birthday card, and a nice long note, I'm sure that will help your relationship get on a better track. You need to make the first overture. Once you do that, then I'm sure that will grease the skids for better treatment from her."
* "It's unfortunate that he called you 'a waste of a human being', a 'nothing', a 'piece of crap', a 'goon', and took all of those belongings from you, but you know, you did call him an addict. You started it with that. If you were less confrontational, and you didn't bait him by saying that his addiction was causing him to rage and steal, you might be treated better. You need to start bettering yourself instead of focusing on him, and accusing him of being an addict. It has to start with you first!"
* "You've always been a difficult child. You've always been the emotional one. I'm sure your sister never meant to hurt you. It's just that you are sooooo sensitive!"
* "I don't think I could ever forgive you if you broke off that relationship. I know that forgiveness is a good quality to have, and I'm asking that of you now, but if you can't forgive your stepfather for what he did to you, that puts our relationship in jeopardy, and I have to go with him first over you. A wife's place is with her husband first whether anyone likes it or not. I know he has a temper, but I know you're the better person, and you really, really can rise above this. Do you hear me? You really can forgive and forget."
* "I can't believe for a second that he was the one who caused this. Men are usually the good ones and women are the bad, conniving and ruthless people. He has spent his life trying to be a good man, bring up good children and his wife obviously loves him. I know what I know, and he would never hurt a flea. So, because I know who he is, I know that you are at fault, so you will have to be the one to apologize. I can't do it for you. It will have to come from you. So, if you want to be part of this family at all, your place is to apologize and to make exceptions for him. I'm just not going to hear any more of this nonsense about a good man like him being abusive."
* "We have a right to make preferences about who we spend time with. You rejected him because you were so hurt, so now you are on the outside of family events and family fun. If you want to rejoin the family, simply forgive and forget and we'll do the same when it comes to you. You really are capable of the Christian values we brought you up on!"

It is difficult for families to understand that all of this is dangerous talk, and not at all palatable to a victim. The victim is already being abused, and now he's being pressured into accepting it and apologizing to the abuser, putting him in even more risk and danger!  

So how do you handle a family member who just can't believe that their sweet little baby-muffy-boo turned adult is now a domestic terrorist? They really can't see what the fuss is about. It is just a one-time bruise (surely!); it is just a couple of enraged words (surely he's polite most of the time!); it is just a temper tantrum (surely he doesn't act like that all of time -- look at how he acts around us! Model child! or husband! In fact, you should act more like he acts!). The excuses run the gamut.

I have met too many ostracized family members in my lifetime. What I have discovered is that people who have been bullied and ostracized from their families or peers are, by and large, the better members of their families and of society. Many of them are the best of humanity, the caring altruistic part of our race, some of whom act like compassionate nurses when you go to a hospital scared out of your wits.

But, also, people look to victims to carry burdens they shouldn't be responsible for shouldering at all.

There are a range of common responses to domestic abuse, all of which minimize abuse by people who are trying to help with a resolution, but who don't understand that a resolution is often dangerous. These include the following (from the Faces of Narcissism blog by Joanna Moore):

I’m sure we’ve all heard them. “Get over it,” “but she’s your mother!,” “forgive and forget,” “that was in the past,” “so-and-so had it worse”….” People who haven’t been abused can never really understand how serious it is, or how we are feeling. Because of that, their reactions are often non-helpful, or are even hurtful to us ... people who haven’t dealt with narcissists cannot understand what it is like to be a survivor of a narcissist ...

She also lists types of people who cannot hear about abuse. These include:

1. The Denier–The person who denies that abuse is abuse ... You can show them dozens of scientific studies showing that emotional abuse has long-lasting effects, but they will continue to deny the reality. They think the abuse victim is over-reacting and just needs to toughen up ...
2. The Rationalizer–The person who agrees that abuse is abuse, but doesn’t think it’s a big deal ... They feel entitled to attack people and they say that the victim deserved it. They use terms like “he had it coming,” or “she baited him.”
3. The Cheerleader–The person who is upset about the discussion and thinks it should end. They want to get back to happy subjects, and they demand that the talk about domestic violence be stopped because it isn’t fun ...
4. The Deserters–All the people who say nothing. In my opinion, these people do a great deal of harm by staying quiet. Many of them probably are against abuse, but don’t want to be targeted by the abusers or the people who think abuse should stay hidden ...

Here is one of the graphics she made for her blog, which I think is powerful:


In this Psychology Today article by Jeanne Safer, there is a trend in families where the family members believe the victim of sibling abuse should take "the higher road" and forgive their violent siblings. But this can have dire consequences for victims, as the article suggests. Here is a snippet from that article:

Under the pressure of promoting family harmony, parents who need to deny one child's viciousness and their own negligence often try to force the victimized child to be "mature" and "rise above it." These more intact, "good" siblings continue to make the same demands of themselves. Their willingness to accept bad treatment, to feel they deserve it, or to define it out of existence then extends beyond their families and damages their later lives ...

The article also goes into detail about the pressure parents put on victims of sibling abuse in order to make themselves look and feel better and to create the harmony that they want, rather than what is best for the victim and the abuser.

A daughter feels her parents are sometimes bullying her into making up with her abusive brother:

Sandy hasn't attended a family function with her brother since she received that letter. "I've taken a strong position that he's out of my life, even though my parents still try to bully me into capitulating. I know it's difficult for them to have two separate sets of holidays, but I forbid them to talk to me about it because their Pollyanna attitude enrages me."

Even in school bullying, victims are still, by and large, obligated to carry around the responsibilities of bullying (of course, this depends on the state, county and school system you are in; some school districts are better prepared, have more consequences for bullying, and are more educated about abuse than others). Victims are the ones who have to go to therapy and be talked out of suicide; they are the ones who have to be educated in how to avoid, side-step and ameliorate bullies; they are the ones who somehow have to get from class to class without getting bullied again, getting out of the way of the bullies' arrogant swagger and fast-fisted work. The bullies are much less accountable than the victims for what happens. I find this totally backward, unacceptable and even criminal since these are public institutions with mandatory requirements for all U.S. citizens.

It is not much different in the family. Invariably a family member who can't stand the discord in the family will say, "Can't you just get along? Can't you just appreciate that you are different people? Can't you just make up for our sake?" And who is pressured the most for making up? The victims!

The victims are looked at as martyrs who have already taken on so much abuse, so "Why not just take on a little more so that we can live in peace? Show you care about the family, show you're the better person!"

Except ... being a victim has dire consequences. It will make victims sick and stressed out and eventually unable to function (PTSD). Sometimes suicide is the end result. It is a selfish, unreasonable request (or challenge) to give a child or even an adult child. There is no holiness or sainthood that comes from being a willing victim and martyr of a family, a family who will only love you if you take on their escalating abuses and scapegoating and shoulder all of the peace-making and diplomacy efforts ... Any sainthood you might have received from your family is quickly challenged again the next time you can't take the torture. It is better to work the streets of Calcutta like Mother Theresa than to keep trying to prove to a bullying family that you are a good person who deserves better treatment.

In fact, many victims are too good for their families.

I've met many, many victims of family abuse, and they are, by and large, in the helping professions and the altruistic members of society (more about who abusers target here). They have often gone overboard for their families (baby sitting, hosting, caretaking, taking on the brunt of family diplomacy, spending decades keeping quiet about abuse to keep the family together, willing to work out family problems in therapy), but their families are often heavily resistant to working on anything: they keep looking to the victims over and over and over again to solve all of the problems in the family. They often seem totally incapable of healthy responses such as acknowledging their child's victimization, and will only consider a forgive and forget approach. While this doesn't necessarily mean victims are ostracized, the family is often put out at having to celebrate important holidays and events in separate locales.

The situation resembles a child who has to go between two divorced parents.

If you are from a narcissistic family or an alcoholic family with narcissistic traits and you were or are the family scapegoat (blamed for nearly every relationship issue and anything else that might expose the family dysfunctions and violence), then you won't be asked and lectured at to take on abuse and be the better person, you will be expected to take on abuse (or else!). The authorities of the family will use every arm-twisting and blackmail they can think of to shut you up and shut you out unless you show that you are willing to be their victim of family violence and abuse. You will be insulted, you may be referred to as an animal species so that they can look at you as sub-human (pig, snake, serpent, rat, vulture, worm, tarantula, shark, rabid dog, etc), they will focus all of their energy on telling you how ungrateful you are for not putting up with members' violence and abuses, they will focus on how you are flawed and ungracious because you are unable to adopt a forgive and forget attitude like a normal person, they will show no mercy in their agenda to hurt you. They do not care about what you went through, or how much danger you were in: if you don't do as they say and make up with family abusers, they will retaliate. In addition, they may very well flaunt how they love the abusive, violent member so much more than they love you!

In this case, you cannot expect them to understand. They aren't normal people who want you to make a decision, hoping that the decision you'll pick is to make life easier for them; they are people who will stop at nothing to add to the torture. They want to see you abused and to use you for family rage. What is more, they want to abandon you and hurt you if you do not live up to their expectations about this. They won't care about what happens to you whether you give in or don't give in: remember you are sub-human to them, and in their minds, there is no abuse and no violent act that is going too far, that their victim doesn't deserve (in their eyes).

By scapegoating, it condones and supports the perpetrator. He can do what ever he wants to do to the family scapegoat (and probably to other members as well). This makes escalation of violence a given, and a completely pardonable offense in the eyes of the family.

What about the law? These families are not above hiring the best lawyers and stonewalling investigations.

There is no choice but to walk away from the family if you are the scapegoat. They may very well use any weapon to get the decision about your own safety and well being out of your hands, and into theirs.

I watched a Law and Order episode one evening which I think was this episode. From what I remember, a brother murders his sister because she won't go along with what he wants, and the mother tries to cover up the crime her son committed because he is the only child she has left. This episode didn't seem so far-fetched to me given what I have seen.

In fact, there was a similar case in Delmar, NY, a suburb outside of Albany, the Porco case, where Christopher Porco was convicted of murdering his father and attempting to murder his mother (with an axe). His mother barely survived the attack, becoming severely disfigured, and she confessed to investigators that her son tried to kill her, but then backtracked and defended her son in court.

In any case, stop looking to victims to solve the family problems! Women went on the march to be seen as citizens who deserved the vote, deserved equal pay, who deserved to take control of what happened to their bodies, who deserved to think for themselves, who deserved to be looked at as real and equal, not just subservient extensions of their husbands. Victims of abuse need the same respect.

Resources and links:

Sibling Abuse and Sibling Bullying (my own post)

Parents Who Pit Siblings Against Each Other: A Folly That Fosters Abuse (my own post)

Favoritism: Fostering Abuse for Everyone in the Family, and Why a Narcissistic Parent Favors and Loves the Golden Child Most, and What it Does to the Whole Family (my own post)

Rejecting the forgiveness culture

Why you don't always have to forgive

Wikipedia article about what causes family estrangement

Wikipedia article about disownment

Why minimizing Narcissistic Abuse is always wrong from the Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Flying Monkeys -- Oh, My blog
Ending a relationship with an abusive parent, child or sibling

Child abuse and the role of parental denial

Parents who scapegoat one child

For all sibling murders, 78 percent are carried out by an adult sibling towards another adult sibling. Only 9 percent are carried out by a juvenile sibling towards another juvenile sibling. According to the research book, Family Violence in the United States, Defining, Understanding and Combating Abuse by Denise A. Hines, Kathleen Malley-Morrison and Leila B. Dutton: "In juvenile relationships, older siblings are generally the perpetrators of homicide against their younger siblings ... whereas the opposite is true in adult relationships: younger siblings kill their older siblings ... Furthermore there is generally less than a 5-year differential between the perpetrators and victims of siblicide ... Siblicide is also more common among males than among females. The most common type of siblicide is brothers killing brothers, followed by brothers killing sisters, sisters killing brothers, and finally sisters killing sisters ..."

As this Wikipedia article states: "Sibling abuse is significantly more likely to occur in dysfunctional, neglectful and/or abusive homes, and often reflects a lack of appropriate boundaries and discipline on the part of the parents." -- the whole article is worth reading.

What happened to one woman who was scapegoated and ostracized by her whole family

One woman tells how she was disowned by her family

Child sex abuse statistics -- 30 percent of children who are sexually abused are abused by a family member

This article states that most parents and step parents who sexually abuse their offspring have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The article also talks about why children think that they caused it (narcissists typically blame victims), and how families react. The author, a psychologist, believes that shattering the silence in the family is the only way for the victim to get help.

Step-fathers who kill and/or abuse their non-biological children is called The Cinderella Effect. According to Wikipedia: "Studies have found that not biologically related parents are up to a hundred times more likely to kill a child than biological parents.[4]"

A nurse loses her life to domestic violence (her husband says she made him angry -- so he had to kill her? ... but this is how it happens ... a son writes about his mother)

I found this on Facebook (I don't know the source):