What is New?


June 23: edited my post on Gaslighting to insert a link to a very good video by psychologist, Ross Rosenberg, explaining how gaslighting starts in childhood, and how to heal from parents who gaslight.

June 6: PBS's Frontline takes on the issue of human sex trafficking of abducted teenage girls in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Click HERE for that.

May 17: Turpin parents get 25 years to life for abusing their children. Final words from children and parents at sentencing. Click HERE for that.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

why abusers who punish use the ungrateful phrase

One of the major signs that you are dealing with either a narcissist or a sociopath is the phrase "You're ungrateful". This is especially likely if they are using it in tandem with abuse. The abuse can be verbal (insults, mocking, degrading, name-calling, raging at you), emotional (silent treatments, "punishing adults", gaslighting, slander, bullying, shaming), physical (pushing and shoving, unwanted touch, breaking property), financial or sexual -- please go here to learn more of what constitutes abuse.

It is one of the most common phrases abusers use to criticize and confuse their victims. They like to use it because, in their minds, it seems to excuse their abuse of you, while, at the same time, gives them an excuse to abuse.

People who have narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder are not only more likely to use the phrase, but they are more likely to use it frequently as well. This phrase accomplishes a number of things for them, which I will get to later.

Narcissists always need outside validation and enmeshment with their victims. If they feel that their victims are pulling away from them, or not sharing information with them, or are even slightly mistrusting of them, or if they feel they are losing power and control over their victims, they have temper tantrums by pulling a silent treatment (usually). As soon as they initiate the silent treatment, the "You're ungrateful phrase" usually comes up. Note the silent treatment is abuse. More here.

Sociopaths and malignant narcissists are driven to feel more powerful than others around them. They insist on being authorities, and they are known to be patronizing and imperious in their speech. While narcissists are determined to keep a good image despite the destruction they do to others in their lives, sociopaths don't care about being popular so long as they feel they are manipulating people around them. In order for narcissists and sociopaths to manipulate effectively, most of them are pathological liars and hypocrites to get what they want. Not all of them are physically abusive. The difference between sociopaths and malignant narcissists from run-of-the-mill narcissists is that sociopaths and malignant narcissists are sadists. They enjoy threatening others, upsetting others, getting a rise out of others emotionally, they enjoy "punishing" victims for not doing what they want and they enjoy seeing their victims suffer from the consequences of investing in a relationship with them, and believing in them. Their major characteristic is a complete lack of empathy. They feel that they are admired regardless of how abusive they are. It is when they are "punishing" their victims that the "ungrateful phrase" comes out.

In contrast, normal adults, use the "ungrateful phrase" rarely, and they certainly don't like to see it used, or use it themselves in power struggles and abuse.

The phrase is an attempt by those who have personality disorders to manipulate, to confound, to disorient and to "manage down the relationship" with a victim of abuse. It is a way to make a victim feel indebted to the abuser and to excuse the abuse because of "the debt".

According to author and professor Preston Ni (from this Psychology Today article):

Another way narcissists manipulate is through guilt, such as proclaiming, “I’ve given you so much, and you’re so ungrateful,” or, “I’m a victim—you must help me or you’re not a good person.” They hijack your emotions, and beguile you to make unreasonable sacrifices.   

At its core it is a diverting tactic; it takes away any discussion and acknowledgement of how a victim feels: hurt, in pain, sacrificed, belittled, insulted, etc. In order for the abuser to not feel that he is at all culpable for causing trauma, or owes his victim anything, he shifts the burden on to his victim instead,  telling the victim "You are ungrateful" as a way to expunge himself from any wrongdoing or culpability. In other words it is a ploy at turning the guilt away from the perpetrator(s) back on to the victim (blame-shifting away culpability is classic narcissistic personality disordered behavior, as well as antisocial personality disordered behavior). It is designed to cause shame -- trying to make the victim appear guilty and at fault, which, unfortunately works on children, even if it does not work on adults. It is also designed to cause confusion too, i.e. victims ruminate on the allegation: "Did I, in any way, cause this abuse to happen? Did I act ungrateful?". Its main purpose and design is to get victims to feel guilty and apologize to people who treat them badly.

As for "managing down the relationship", this means the abuser is trying to groom the victim to accept less and less good behavior, in bits and pieces, until the victim feels "grateful" for any crumbs at all. In these situations, the abuser uses the term "You are ungrateful" a lot. Indeed, it can be highly effective if the victim is a child, or he has more of a propensity to self reflect than to think about the agenda of the abuser.

Abusers of all kinds use the phrase so consistently that they are predictable: first: they abuse; second: the victim confronts the perpetrator about the abuse; third: the abuser justifies his actions and says "You're ungrateful", which is just another way of saying "you brought this upon yourself," another common phrase among abusers.

Most abusers treat their victims so deplorably, so unthinkingly, that go on for weeks, months or years, that many victims have plenty of time to ruminate about the allegations of "being ungrateful". Most will usually come to a point where they realize that their abusers accusations have always been projection.

And believe me, they are projecting.

I'll tell you why they are.

First off, your abuser is showing you that he is the one who is ungrateful about you, and his relationship with you. He is showing you that you don't matter to him, nor does he care about hurting you, not the other way around.

All abusers tell you what they think and feel by telling you what you think and feel. That is how you tell what their motivations are and what they are planning and thinking. If they tell you that you are evil, and planning evil deeds against them, what is really happening is that they are evil and planning evil deeds against you (time to take cover, and get protection). If they tell you that you are poison, they are poison, and mean to poison you and your life.

And, yes, it goes for gratitude too. If they tell you that you are ungrateful, what they are really saying is that they are ungrateful.

This makes them very easy to read in terms of their intentions (if you see their accusations as projections). Since narcissists and sociopaths only care what their own feelings and thoughts are, they cannot know yours, and they rarely ask, and if they do ask, they think you are lying. It is because they lie so profusely. So that leaves them no other choice than to project. This makes them not very intelligent or insightful when it comes to the emotions and motivations of others. Since they are all about what they think and feel, and all about projection and mirrors, they will always think that you think the way they think (though they couldn't be more off, and yes, they are the most un-insightful, predictable people on the planet).

If you have gotten abused to the point of being vilified, rejected (silent treatment), called names, been degraded, been scapegoated, played for a fool with their "strategically withholding affection games" during important events in your life, and they have told you that you deserved it because you didn't show enough gratitude, don't scratch your head and try to figure out what they are saying about you. Look at them instead. They are saying that they are ungrateful. Look no further. They are just looking in the mirror and telling you what they saw in the mirror.

Proof that they are just looking in the mirror is that they don't care what impact they are having on others beyond what it is doing to their reputations. One of the reasons they slander so much is that they don't want others to know that they victimize (so they pretend they are victims instead). That means that they only care about what they are going through. Most abusers cannot understand you beyond seeing you as an extension of them.

And wow, when they are ungrateful, are they ungrateful in spades, and cavalier about it too!

The abuser shows ingratitude to his victim(s) in so many ways. The most obvious way is through their typical idealize, devalue and discard way. They practice this in almost all of their relationships. If the people in their lives can prove to the narcissist or sociopath that they are undying sycophants and loyalists who will never criticize or shame them, or they are flying monkeys (flying monkeys is a term psychologists use for either helping or enabling an abuser to bully a victim) they may be spared, but not always because narcissists and sociopaths have been known to reject and terrorize over minutiae (see my post on erroneous blaming).

Other ways that abusers show ingratitude towards their victims is through silent treatments, vilification, constant blaming/shaming sessions, constant chiding, making you a laughing stock, talking at you like you were a child or a slave, refusing to listen to you, telling you what they feel and think and not being open to what you really feel and think, beating you, trying to destroy your relationships, trying to destroy your reputation, talking down to you (patronizing), rejection, trying to destroy you at the worst times of your life, talking disparagingly about you behind your back, putting you through love triangles, testing you to see if you would make easy prey for future blaming, being unfaithful, being two-faced, being glib, being unfeeling and uncaring, being fake and superficial. If you look closely, the abuser shows his ingratitude about all of his relationships, not just the relationship he has with you. He is a relationship killer and quitter. Abusers don't know their victims, even though they think they do: they only know them as they know themselves: when you aren't acting the way they want, you are prey; when you are acting the way they want, you are a "good girl mirror" or a "good boy mirror". They swing wildly back and forth between looking at you as prey and looking at you as a mirror.

So, when you are "a good little sycophant" you are grateful. When you resist being abused by them you are "ungrateful." It's as simplistic and immature as that.

As I have said in so many blogs, abusers are all about hypocrisy. Why hypocrisy? The abuser expects you to be grateful for his being horrible to you, while he can't show the slightest bit of gratitude unless you will lie on a sword for him, and even then he can get sick of you and reject you anyway.

Abusers are NOT grateful people. They are the princess and the pea with constant temper tantrums.

There is one exception about their feeling grateful.

Bullies will feel grateful if they are given the slightest attention from someone who they think is superior to them: someone overwhelmingly wealthy, or powerful, or more manipulative and psychopathic than they are. They can act just like the ashamed sycophants they expect others to be. They kowtow in the hopes that they, themselves will be able to reach the heights of power that their idols have reached.

In those situations, they will say "I am grateful" instead of insisting that their idols be grateful.

More about that in a future post ("Is bullying effective?"). 

From a blog post entitled "You Can Get PTSD From Staying In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship" by Jennifer Williams-Fields, a victim of marital abuse tells how abuse gradually and unknowingly seeped into her relationship. You'll see that the "ungrateful phrase" happened early on, in response to her complaining that her husband was out too late, that she wasn't willing to make him dinner when he finally came home (at midnight), and like so many victims, she thought about it and decided to try harder, realizing after awhile that trying harder never stops abuse, but seems to empower it.

In Alcoholic families and Narcissistic families, the "ungrateful phrase" is also used as a scapegoat tactic (the scapegoat is typically used by the family to heap all of the blame on to). If you are being told you are ungrateful, remember this: ingratitude is a feeling, and interpretive, not a condemnation of guilt. In other words, no educated and respected judge in a court of law would say: "We interpret your actions and feelings as ingratitude, thus you are sentenced to..." It is a primitive, irrational form of justice, not much different than accusing a member of a tribe for not feeling grateful as a reason for why the crops failed to grow, whereby the tribe makes the determination that the member should be exiled, tortured or sacrificed.

It is very common for people who love to scapegoat and abuse to attribute ugly meanings on a victim's feelings and use feelings (and also glances) to convict. It is desperate fault-finding. In religious abusive families, the phrase spawn of the devil is typically used in conjunction with you're ungrateful. In atheist abusive families, snake or serpent takes the place of spawn of the devil. Either way, spawn of the devil or snake or serpent is the abuser's irrational insult, not a concrete allegation. It is meant to hurt the victim, but has no weight as rational reason to convict and punish. 

"You're ungrateful" or "they are ungrateful" is used so much by abusers, and so little by empaths, that it can be a red flag letting you know that you may very well be talking to someone who is abusive (before you get involved: see my post on how to tell if someone is abusive before you get hurt).

All abusers tell you what you feel and think; they never think to ask. So, the "You're ungrateful" phrase is just part of it. It is a subcategory under erroneous blaming (erroneous blaming is a form of abuse -- see my post on erroneous blaming for more information). Abusers practically wear a sign of ingratitude and entitlement.

"You're ungrateful!" has also been attributed to abusive active alcoholics, since they misread emotions consistently, attributing negative interpretations on someone's intentions, and many of them are caught up in blame-shifting and lying already as a tactic to get people distracted from their drinking problem and illogical thinking (when drunk).

The real message, most of the time is, "You are ungrateful ... for not submitting to abuse!" ... or for the active alcoholic "you're ungrateful ... for not putting up with my drinking!"

All abusers have the ability to give "gifts". Emotional abusers might give money, child sex abusers might give candy or toys, batterers may wine and dine after they abuse their partners as part of a make-up strategy with their victim (see wheel of abuse). They count on "gifts" saddling their victims with feelings of shame and guilt. They feel entitled to forsake and discount their victim's pain, in exchange for justifying abuse. To them a gift justifies abuse.

All of it is designed to get the victim(s) to give into demands and domination.   

I'm sure this diverting tactic was even used on whipped slaves who attempted to escape from their owners: "Here we clothed you, fed you, put a roof over your head, and how do you repay us?! You run away, you ungrateful piece of crap! Now you will repay us!"

Over the years I have met many victims of childhood sexual abuse where the ungrateful phrase was lobbed at them by their abusers. Little girls are often told, with a soothing voice and a comforting caress after administering an act demanded by their adult sex abuser, "good girl" or "good boy". If the victim tries to get out of administering sex or runs away when they see their abuser, then they are often called "bad girl" or "bad boy" and "ungrateful".

"Ungrateful" in this connotation has more to do with the perpetrator's ego: sexual abusers have been known to think that their victims should feel privileged that they were chosen over a myriad of other attractive children and will accuse their victims of being ungrateful if they attempt to run away from the abuse. From all I have gleaned, it seems that most child molesters think that sexual abuse is desired by their victims, and indeed, they think all children want it, whether they are chosen or not. Unfortunately, almost all abusers have huge egos.

If these molesters receive the message that the abuse isn't desired, the perpetrators often try to convince their child victims that they are crazy, that there is something wrong with them for not wanting or enjoying adult sexual acts -- especially with the molester (whose ego is being effected by the acceptances and rejections of his victims).

Once a victim is deemed crazy by their abuser for not wanting to be a willing participant in a sex act, the perpetrators will sometimes try to make their victim a laughing stock, or otherwise humiliate the child in some way. Sometimes gaslighting is used too. If one style of abuse doesn't work, the threats and abuse increase in severity. As the child victim grows up, the abuser can often feel a sense of ownership of his former child victim and will feel enraged and betrayed as the victim gains more autonomy, is seen dating, getting married and having children, and finally, making a final escape from any more abuse. Most child sex abusers think they are special, and feel that children should view them as special too (they tend to be sociopaths and malignant narcissists).

Once an abuser labels a child victim as bad, the victim can endure punishments (abuse and terror) which is worse than performing the expected sex act.

"Punishments" on unwilling children can range from poisoning, administering medications like sleeping pills (while the sex act is performed), isolation, smearing the child's name, withholding school, temporary kidnappings, interfering with the child's friendships or work, high speed dangerous driving used to incite terror, hitting, slapping, shoving and yelling. There are many more, but the point is, that the abuse is escalated once the child resists -- and it is almost always accompanied by a myriad of threats designed to keep the victim silent, and the "ungrateful phrase" is used to keep the child compliant.

The result is that children often learn to feign enjoyment of abuse just to get through the experience and to stop escalations which feeds into the perpetrator's narcissism and makes their disorder worse.

Alternatively, some of the co-victims might join in on the taunting, bullying and name-calling just so they don't have to endure humiliations and can gain status and importance with the molester; perhaps it becomes a matter of survival to join the evil forces than to fight against them.

I have noticed that many childhood sexual abuse survivors who have become adults appear much more docile and malleable than they truly are and people around them are often caught off-guard and by total surprise when former victims assert themselves (there comes a point in many survivor's lives where the risk of buckling under is greater than the risk of assertion -- and that includes victims of abuse who learn to bend to others' wills).

All abusers have an issue with their victims' autonomy, attempts at asserting their human rights and truth-telling, whether that disapproval of their victims is expressed verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually or through threats. In essence, abusers unknowingly demand that their victims lie for them and lie about them (thereby pressuring their victims to become liars).

The result is an abuser who lives in a fantasy world, much like a hated king or queen who believes everyone is (or should be) worshiping him or her and is caught by total surprise when they are much more unpopular than they ever thought possible, and where a revolution threatens to de-throne them.

Perhaps victims live in a fantasy world too, of a different kind, in order to withstand the abuse. I have met survivors who attributed their survival to Mr. Rogers who would tell his child viewers "I like you just the way you are" (of the PBS series), to a picture of an angel on the wall guiding them out of the darkness of abuse, and so on.
As for the common bully-abuser or scapegoat-er (i.e. not a sex offender or a slave owner -- just the typical run-of-the-mill one)? I have noticed that if the phrase, "You are ungrateful!" is used in conjunction with, or as an excuse for abuse, more abuse usually follows those words. If you don't apologize to the abuser or recognize "the gifts" of the abuser, the abuse usually escalates and can get dangerous if you are still in their company.

If you end up apologizing to an abuser to keep the peace, the escalation process still happens because most of them take it as a sign that abuse works and that they can get away with treating you horribly. 

Groveling is what they want, and even then, they are known to say "That is not good enough." You will notice that abusers get a little smirk, a little smile when their victims are groveling, or trying to explain themselves, or apologizing even when they don't want to (perhaps they apologize just to stop the terror). That smile, that sadistic little smirk, is telling you that they enjoy abusing you, that they enjoy your pain, that they enjoy trashing you. Don't make the mistake that that will be the end of their getting high from abusing. They have decided they are a judge, and that the work of the victim is to treat the abuser as king, judge, jury and executioner.

Lastly, think about how the "You're ungrateful!" phrase is used. Is it used in close proximity to an incident of bullying, abuse or insensitivity to your plight or your feelings? If it is, then look at it for what it is: the most common tactic to divert the guilt away from themselves or the real people and issues that would make them accountable  -- and lastly, don't get caught in a trap where you are unwittingly apologizing for and excusing abuse.

You can find the ungrateful phrase on just about any forum for victims of abuse. Here are some posts and instances from forums that I found where abusers use the ungrateful phrase after they have been abusive (note: the parentheses are mine to clarify abbreviations):

from this forum link:
The thing is, I've tried so many times to tell them that they've hurt me and I got insulted and told I'm ungrateful etc ... I know she's playing the victim card with my extended family because of all their passive aggressive facebook posts about how some children are so ungrateful and moms love their daughters more than anybody can love someone and sometimes parents come off as the bad guy but they're only doing it out of love for you. OH! Really?! When my mom told me I was spawn of the devil and never should have been born because life would be so much better without me... that was out of love huh?" ~ Astrid (forum ID)
from this forum link:
Somehow certain PDs (personality disordered people) take the most responsible of their children and turn them into ungrateful, bratty villains while the GCs (Golden Children) get away with murder (and are celebrated for their wit and charm). It's crazy-making. ~HealingMeFL (forum ID)

Another topic I'll cover is the phrase "You brought this on yourself!" This is another favorite phrase of the abuser.  

1 comment:

  1. Yep, it's high time we normals reply with a resounding "Yep, I'm ungrateful ;) Now go f-yerself, you narkish piece of slime.;)"


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