The Importance of Making Amends

I’ve counseled many couples over the years whose relationship bonds had become strained to the point of possibly breaking.  Generally this happened because the parties had allowed themselves to cross certain boundaries and violate certain limits that inflicted deep emotional wounds.  Some of the things we allow ourselves to say to one another can really pierce the heart.  And there are things we can let ourselves do or refuse to make ourselves do that can inflict a lot of injury, too.  Over the years, I’ve been really taken aback by some of the things folks have allowed themselves to do or say without sufficient appreciation for the damage caused and without a due sense of obligation to repairing the damage.

Making amends in a meaningful way can be a particularly arduous task.  But in a loving relationship, repairing any damage done (whether inadvertently or intentionally inflicted) is not only a person’s duty but also essential for maintaining integrity of character.  Relationships never survive or prosper unless the parties embrace this obligation both willingly and freely.

I once counseled a couple who’d been blessed in many ways.  Well-educated, and coming from somewhat privileged backgrounds, they had it all:  wonderful careers, financial security, beautiful, healthy children, etc. But like most couples they had “issues” between them and unfortunately they didn’t do very well in addressing those issues in a respectful way.  One major bone of contention between them had to do with how the children should be disciplined.  The husband tended to be the rule-setter and “enforcer” whereas the wife tended to be the coddler and “rescuer.” The children, recognizing the the lack of alliance between their parents, knew very well how to play one against the other. But it’s how the couple addressed their differences with one another that really caused the trouble.  Dropping expletives, name-calling, withholding affection, chastising and belittling were common, and when there appeared no compromise, there’d be the inevitable “threat” to end it all.  Now both of these individuals were a lot alike:  Neither liked to lose a fight.  Both were strong-willed, opinionated, and most of all, they had their pride.  And in their determination to win, and especially to vindicate themselves, each was willing to go to the mat, even over matters that could rightfully be considered pretty trivial.  And they knew very well each other’s deepest emotional vulnerabilities, and sometimes they just couldn’t seem to stop themselves from going too far (“Going for the jugular,” is how they put it).  As a result, their marriage was really in trouble.  Too much hurt, too many scars – these things had taken their toll.  And it’s not like either of them hadn’t felt sorrow over some of the things they’d done or said. And it’s not like each hadn’t apologized, sometimes over and over again. But the wounds they’d both inflicted and sustained went deep and were a testament to the fact that being sorry or even saying you’re sorry simply isn’t enough.  For a relationship to work, each party needs be able to trust.  Partners need to know they’ll be safe in the arms of the other and free of the threat of the worst kinds of wounding.  Inadvertent slights are one thing.  But repeated acts of cruelty just to prove a point or to try and intimidate the other into doing what you want them to do, or to feel the pain you believe they’ve caused you is quite another.  And unless you’re truly willing to make amends, and you demonstrate that willingness quite clearly in your efforts to change your approach, there’s no way to restore or rebuild that necessary trust.

I’ve written before about what genuine remorse and contrition look like (See, for example What Real Contrition Looks Like, Contrition Revisited, and Shame, Guilt, Regret, Remorse, and Contrition), and what it really takes to make amends.  In counseling this couple, I called their attention to the work that had to be done and made it clear there could be no excuses.  If you really love someone and fancy yourself as having any real integrity of character, you have to be willing to repair damage you’ve done.  It’s like when you were a kid playing baseball in the street and you accidentally knocked a ball through someone’s window, your responsibility is to do more than apologize.  You need to sacrifice and underwrite the repair of the damage.  And there’s always a cost to damage you inflict, a cost you have to be freely willing to bear.  It’s never ceased to amaze me how many people are willing to pay the price for something like breaking a neighbor’s window but not be willing to do what it takes to repair damage they’ve inflicted on a person they purport to love.

In the next few articles, I’ll be having more to say about making amends with examples of how folks who not only accepted the responsibility to repair damage they had done but also did the work it took to nurture their relationships back to health.  In the process, they didn’t just save their partnership, they developed greater integrity of character.

Some announcements:  This week’s Character Matters program will be a rebroadcast of a prior program, so no calls can be taken.  And within a few months, you’ll be noticing some striking new changes in the overall appearance and structure of the blog as well as some new content on the pages devoted to my books In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome.

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46 thoughts on “The Importance of Making Amends

  1. Dr Simon, when you are in a marriage that is relatively say…normal or equal which appears to be the scenario you’ve described then really looking deep into yourself to repair the damage is imperative. I think all couples will go through what you have explained many times and as you say if they are willing to really work at it and recognise the role they have played and display genuine contrition and regard for each other there’s a good chance their marriage will survive. That is for two people who have genuine love and concern for each other. As you rightly point out if it is a loving relationship.

    If on the other hand you are in a relationship with a disturbed character then the scenario played out is very different indeed. One person maybe genuinely upset by fights and their behaviour and do all they can to make amends while the other partner plays a fake game of contrition. It is not an equal partnership and so therefore the outcome can never be harmonious. I just think that is an important distinction to make. As when in such a relationship you can be convinced that you are to blame on some level because of manipulation and behave in ways that is not really part of your character because you have been pushed to a point that no one should ever be pushed too. I certainly don’t want to make excuses because I have had to battle with my own character flaws and work hard to improve myself. It was just something that came to mind when reading this post.

    1. You make some great points here, Tori, and I think as the series progresses you’ll find in the examples I’ll be giving good illustrations of how differently disturbed characters and those in relationships with them both look at and handle this issue. And there will be at least one example of a person with significant character disturbance for whom the entire concept of working on anyone else’s behalf – even to undue damage they have caused – is anathema.

      1. Dr. Simon; I wonder also if you have any articles, or are considering creating some, that touch on the topic of some common “unhelpful” ways that the survivors cope when they first begin seeing the truth. And maybe touching on some of those typical “emotional abuse” checklists that are out there. When I first began standing up for myself; setting boundaries; asking for my legitimate, normal needs within a relationship to be met, etc. I went about it all the wrong way. I noticed that, for a short time, when I would read those generic emotional abuse checklists, I was checking all the boxes off that I was behaving that way, I was horrified with myself and I backed off even more;
        I guess what I’m trying to point out, to a disturbed character when a non-disturbed character has crisis moments of reaction, or when they do start to see the light and begin setting limits, standing up for themselves, making choices based on their own needs, and seeking help; often the Disturbed Character will label that as being abusive, will find a way to twist their targets growth and learning process and attack their character with it. I know this really set me back, as I knew how I had felt being a victim; I was horrified with myself that now the DC in my life was seeing me as “controlling”, “overbearing”, “suspicious”, “withdrawn”, “emotionally unavailable”; and it did seem to me that I was being those things.
        I hope I’m making sense here.

        1. Sheri you are making sense, that’s what the CD individual wants you to feel. It takes the onus off them! Blame shifting. Don’t buy into it. You react that way for one reason and one reason only you are living with a person who wants to control you and make you feel guilty. That’s how they manipulate you and create the chaos.

        2. Sheri,

          Being withdrawn, or keeping to yourself, being suspicious (aware) and overbearing (being no nonsense) are survival mechanisms when dealing with a seriously CD person. If a CD person does the same thing to YOU, it’s a control strategy. The intent is different.

          One thing I learned the hard way is NEVER let a CD draw you into an argument– if you can avoid it. They are ‘playing to win’. You are seeking some kind of understanding. If a man treats another man this way, he risks getting a far lip. When a CD man treats us this way, we end up tearing our hair out and generally going berserk. When we lose our composure AND chastise ourselves for it, they score a goal. I think it is super okay to go berserk when dealing with them, from a purely moral perspective. It is just the energy depletion and the self recrimination that is ‘wrong’.

          I can’t get over how well both you and Tori are doing, dealing with the personal devastation CD’s bring into our lives.

          I have a family member (or two) who is somewhat disordered, so it’s easy for me to keep my distance. thank God, I don’t have to live with them. I know she would drive me out of my mind if I had to deal with her self focus and competitive aggression for more than a minimal amount of time.

          A couple of decades ago, just before I married my late husband, I was involved for a couple of years with a man who was very very passive aggressive. I have never been more confused in my life. I would end up nearly banging my head against the wall, because he was fighting and I was discussing. Non CD people can disagree, argue, have major differences of opinion. We get irritated, annoyed, angry, hurt, but it’s all within a certain range of normal emotion. This dude completely unnerved me– because I didn’t understand personality disorders and that he was actually being highly aggressive.

          1. Thank you, “the intent is different” is something that took me a long time to find. Often when you read those generic emotional abuse checklists a person trying to sort out and protect themselves from the abuse ends up looking like the emotionally abusive one. It is important to look at long-term patterns of behavior as well as the intent or motivation behind the behavior. I just find that there are actually more books and websites out there intending to help the victim, but actually do more harm. I wish there were more sites like this one, I was lucky that I happened to stumble across this site. It really helped me have way more understanding. I really feel for those people out there who are at that stage where they need to be given the correct information, want the help, and are just being told things that cause them to stay stuck or even blame themselves further. It seems like a lot of information given with intention to help the victim only ends up helping the abuser further their cause

          2. Right on LisaO.
            “If a man treats another man this way, he risks getting a far lip. When a CD man treats us this way, we end up tearing our hair out and generally going berserk. When we lose our composure AND chastise ourselves for it, they score a goal. ”

            They score a goal and the extra point. I GAVE him the game……numerous times.

          3. Thank you LisaO you again have summed it up well. I agree with this… “I think it is super okay to go berserk when dealing with them, from a purely moral perspective. It is just the energy depletion and the self recrimination that is ‘wrong’.” That’s exactly why communicating on this blog is so important, anyone who has lived with a CD person has experienced this…it’s important to know that you are not going crazy. Making you crazy is how they get their kicks! I’ve spent years beating myself up about such episodes and it nearly literally killed me psychologically. The worst problem is that family members, even neighbours see you in this state and start to believe something is terribly wrong with you. They don’t see the other side of the manipulation, since the CD is usually so adept at impression management. In the end that causes the isolation that can be even more devastating, because you feel no one is going to believe you.

            It takes a while once your out of it to come to terms with it all and that’s why I am so grateful for blogs such as this one. When family and friends think once you’re out of it you should be fine that is not the case. The effects linger for such a long time and we need somewhere to express ourselves, usually those close to you don’t want to hear it because YOU should have MOVED on already. If only it were that simple.

    2. Tori, thank you for addressing this distinction. I would add to this comment you made:
      “As when in such a relationship you can be convinced that you are to blame on some level because of manipulation and behave in ways that is not really part of your character because you have been pushed to a point that no one should ever be pushed too.”
      I would add that a covert manipulator may also be knoding(sp?? Gnoding?) his victim intentionally and covertly to produce the behavior in them he can use for his own twisted reasons.

      1. Hi Puddle, if goading is what you mean then most definitely I agree. It’s so subtle you don’t recognise it but that’s exactly how it was. If you knew that’s what was going on you could not react and not give them the satisfaction but even so when it is a constant non stop assault I wonder how would anyone ever remain calm and controlled all the time. I don’t think it’s possible. Mind you had I have known and used that tactic more than likely he would have got bored and discarded me tout sweet and saved me all this trauma!

        1. Tori, I have serious spelling issues!! I stump spell check on a regular basis! Goading! Yes, I KNOW they do that! Prompting fights, setting them up, testing testing, playing,,,,,,idiot. Blach!!
          I remember being so confused by so many things,,,,,and then off it would go again in a “positive” direction…..just sick how he let me think he loved me and let me love him.

          1. Puddle,for someone with spelling issues I think you articulate very well! Your descriptions are always spot on and the words you use! 🙂 I understand completely… I hate how counsellors will tell you oh he probably loved you on some level! What level, are there levels of love??? Not sure these well meaning things help!
            Adds to that confusion you already have and makes you think perhaps there’s something you’ve missed. ((Hugs Puddle)) 🙂 I can feel those last words… .just sick how he let me think he loved me and let me love him. I feel the same!

          2. Tori, hugs back to you! And thank you. I CAN articulate fairly well sometimes, better in writing, but my spelling takes a lot of effort at times and when I stump spell check I pannic! Then there is auto correct that can take things WAY out! My biggest processing problem is getting my thoughts into words that come out of my mouth the same way they are in my brain. There is something wrong there for sure, something hard to describe. When that starts going wrong, it compounds itself and I feel like I’m swimming in verbal quicksand with ankle weights. It quickly turns into………” Never mind”! Well, it makes it very hard to try to negotiate sometimes. Tori, so many of the things I say about my experience with Spathtard and you recognize, I feel so badly for you that you understand because I know how deeply he crushed my heart.

        2. Tori, I think sometimes…. I wish I would have known, (like Sheri is in this position), and I would have been able to do x,y,z…… But if I would have KNOWN, I would not have stuck around to do x,y,z…..
          I didn’t have kids with him ( thank god ), wasn’t married to him (ditto), I would have told him where to go any goodbye! Tout Sweet! I haven’t heard that for a while! 🙂

      2. Hi Puddle, CD’s score a strategic advantage when we lose composure. When they ‘lose composure’ it is often fake and to help them score a strategic advantage through the pity play. It is all about winning, control and power. Te weird thing is, once they have the total control they want, they often lose interest. The sweet spot (for a P, anyway) is a woman who is still intact, somewhat resistant. They love a challenge. If a woman has to live with a CD of this type, she has to be aware of this dynamic. Reminds me of the Warner bros cartoon, Pepe le Peeeeuuwww. .

        1. I hear you LisaO. You are on target. It’s disgusting but I think you are right. Like there is a pair of binoculars and they look through the end that makes everything you do look bigger and expect you to look through the end that makes what THEY do look smaller. Like if you talked to a guy at a bar, they would make it into a huge relationship violation. But if they cheated and had sex with someone else, they would expect complete forgiveness or rake you over the coals for not being able to move on in thirty seconds. But, EVERYthing they do and say is all part of the game, the one THEY are playing that is…..

  2. Tori, I agree with what you are saying “behave in ways that is not really part of your character because you have been pushed to a point that no one should ever be pushed to”. I learned to not be so hard on myself for those times, however I am still responsible. So my way of making ammends is by putting up a safety net and being more aware so that he doesn’t push me to that point (although he keeps managing to find new and improved ways to push my limits, it seems like I think I know what to expect and wham he develops something new). I would also like to add, throughout my marriage I seemed to be making ammends and striving to be better because of so many false accusations, making ammends for those things he blamed me for. I think when you’re with a DC you’re never good enough to them…I was constantly trying to be more forgiving, more supportive, more …. Everything he was always blaming me for whenever his lack of integrity and love were exposed.

    1. Sheri the goal posts are always shifting and you’re right…you will never be good enough for a CD person. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t! I always felt that I was never good enough. I have found those feelings changing now and I feel a new confidence emerging. It has felt almost alien to me but I do like it. They project everything on to you so it is an ongoing battle, Sheri. It’s good that you are trying to not be too hard on yourself in those times that you are pushed…and you know I don’t know about the responsibility thing, I find that’s an area that is complex depending on the situation. It’s like the enabling debate I’m not sure that I am in full agreement with those ideas either. Healing after these relationships is an ongoing thing, I find new things out about myself, the relationship, the spath and different feelings emerge all the time that take me by surprise. Nothing is straightforward during the relationship or afterward.

      1. I agree, I do know that my “not being good enough” is what he thinks. And it’s weird because verbally he talks like he thinks I’m the best person in the whole world, but then his actions, choices and subtle insinuations send a completely different message, that’s where the complete confusion and crazy-making comes in. It’s hard to wrap ones mind around sometimes, I think I wouldn’t have been in the dark so much if he’d just been honest about how he really thinks, typically I am a fairly confident person who doesn’t take a lot of crap. It’s so hard to wrap your mind around it though when they can so lovingly build you up with their words, to realize that was just part of their game can be devastating, when I started looking more at his consistent actions rather than his words, it was really hard to beleive that someone who vowed to love you, someone you gave so many years to, doesn’t truly value you beyond how they can use you as to get what they want, or worse yet, use you as a scapegoat. It’s a hard thing to accept.

        1. Wow does that all sound familiar, both Tori and Sheri, you really summed up my experience. ” I love you SO MUCH Puddle, why else would I be with you all the time?” In reality, he loved me SO MUCH he couldn’t be bothered to shave, or…. ….., fill in the blank. Crazy making indeed. Gee, if that was the only damage he did…….

        2. Oh Sheri this is so similar when you say… It’s hard to wrap ones mind around sometimes, I think I wouldn’t have been in the dark so much if he’d just been honest about how he really thinks, typically I am a fairly confident person who doesn’t take a lot of crap… That’s how I always saw myself as a confident person who will only put up with so much and it’s see you later but with my ex that person seemed to turn into a confused, messed up individual. Yes, if they were honest with their core beliefs and let you know where you stood you could have an idea what to do. Of course they’re not honest and never will be it’s all a game. A game to be played and won. Honestly Sheri, I personally believe it’s about destroying you emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically… that is the end game. I know that’s what my ex wanted to do and still wants on some level. He would have such a sadistic smile on his face when he would see me in an emotional state, I can’t count all the times I saw that expression and when I think back that should have been enough for any sane person to say I am outta here! But then you get the other side, the loving side the beautiful person you thought they could be but in reality it’s a facade. It’s so hard to accept that for years that is what you lived and that’s why it takes so long to heal after you break free.
          I also believe there is a certain bit of envy in them if they see you as a confident person. I’ve read that they target women who are confident yet have vulnerabilities of compassion etc (though they are not really vulnerabilities they are good traits) and their sole purpose is to destroy that confidence. It is hard to get your head around that that is what they intended all along but having lived it I must say it makes sense now.

          1. Tori, is it any wonder women stay with men like that? It’s not only difficult to accept emotionally, what they are, it is darned near impossible from a rational perspective to understand a being who appears to be fundamentally two different people. I don’t put up with too much from people, either. I am very understanding, but if they cross that line one too many times, it is super easy for me to say good- bye. My vulnerability (strength in most contexts), like you and probably most people on this blog, is that I am very sympathetic and can be manipulated along those lines. The question I always had was why someone would expend so much energy trying to bring me down and was it ALL fake, right from the start? The conclusion I came to was, the man was initially infatuated, interested. Psychopaths can become obsessively interested and intrigued, like anybody else. I think, based on my own experience, that once the excitement of infatuation wears off, real enduring care concern and love doesn’t take over or hasn’t been building. One of the problems many people have, post trauma is wondering if any of it was true, ever. Some of the responses to this question seem lacking and can do more harm than good. The most common response is, ” it was all fake and a lie, right from the start”, together with the favorite, “you have to understand, psychopaths don’t have emotions.”

            The idea that anyone could do such a successful end run around our intuition is a bit mind shattering and sets us up to be overly suspicious and relationship averse, in the future. I think, the best way to sum up the Psychopathic experience is that P’s grow bored, after infatuation wears off. I’d they are partnered they must produce drama, through cruelty and or confusion to self stimulate and to reinforce control over an unhappy partner who has been essentially dumped, even if the facade of a relationship remains in place.

          2. LisaO again your closing there is probably the most accurate in a straightforward way. That’s it we were dumped long before they walked out the door. No wonder it’s so devastating emotionally. Although if you give them an out they don’t take it? It has to be on their terms and depending on what their terms entails it’s either time to watch out or get out!

  3. Dr. Simon,

    You mention that neither one of the couple liked to lose a fight, that they had their pride. Is this a misread of pride, on their part? When I witness people arguing and fighting because they have to be right, I get the impression they lack real pride.
    .

  4. I agree with you 100 %. But, if your husband is a narcissist, then one can not repair the damage alone and only make the amends. This is a lesson that took years for me to understand. My ex would say “I’m sorry” to his inappropriate statements/behavior, then revert back to his unkind self when I would not bow down to his every wish and command. I loved him with all my heart, but had to finally end the marriage to save my sanity. Does your article address those couples who do not have character disorders? And, does the wounded narcissist always hurt another adult who has wounded childhood issues?

  5. When Viper was emotionally(and eventually physically) abusive towards his girlfriend, he never, ever apologized to her. He could come up with excuses, blame her or someone or something else, appear slightly regretful at best while not really apologizing and taking responsibility, implied that she had trouble letting go of things, went into victim-playing histrionics and that’s just a small fraction of him being his utterly entitled self. Like one of my older friends said when I told him about Viper: “Some people just have rotten machinery.”

    Funny enough, when I was still in junior high in the same class as Viper, he once, during one class, gave me a non-apology, one of those IF he has offended me in any way. I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t remember much of the material I’d read years ago by chance(including Dr Simon’s material).

    After he’d assaulted me, only to lose, he made a big deal out of how HE would never forgive ME for whatever-made-up-offense and how I was no longer welcome to HIS house(really his parents’ house). Funny enough, he claimed to others that he wasn’t angry at me. When questioned by our class supervisor(who knew I was conscientious andk new to be skeptical about his story), he kept convincing, didn’t really convince her per se, but kept saying that he convinces that he bears no grudges towards me at all. From someone else I might’ve bought that. There it showed what Viper really was all about. At least he stopped directly harassing me, reduced rumours and largely ignored me.

    What tells much also is that he never apologized to that other guy, whom he beat up for accidentally bumping to him in a hallway. Viper rather told him how he shouldn’t “pick a fight” with him. Again, combative hypervigilance. My friend, after hearing this from the acquaintance, who had been beaten up by Viper, later asked me what was wrong with Viper.

  6. Dr. Simon – I have a question on making amends within the therapeutic relationship. Possibly you have some articles on this topic and can point me to them. I recently ended a therapy in which I could not get past an impasse. I believed the therapist’s behavior was very harmful to me and the therapy. I could not engage the therapist in a meaningful discussion of the issue and each attempt left me feeling more distant and frightened within the therapy. At one point the therapist told me to just “keep talking” and that this would eventually resolve the issue. However, I believe a dialogue was necessary and the therapist would not participate.

  7. Also will be interested in how children are affected by the parents disagreements in discipline. Too often I have seen the parent start disciplining before saying hi and how was your day to the child. I wonder if the meaning of respect is lost, example plays a large roll too I think.

  8. Hello all — I just found an interesting site. I’ve spoken here before about Joe Navarro, the body language expert. His website is http://www.jnforensics.com. From there you can link to his blog (website listed below)(weekly short articles)about various kinds of CDs and how their body language may make it easier for us to spot them. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/spycatcher I have so far read only 4 of the articles listed. They look very interesting, hope I can get a few more of them read soon. Peace and Hope from Elva

  9. Thankyou for yet another informative and enlightening article Dr Simon. And all the people like me, trying to make sense of the people and behaviours we have encountered. Some of which have hurt us deeply. Is difficult, to put it mildly, to maintain perspective when you first begin to realise that a person you thought you ‘knew’, loved and trusted was actually not ‘that’ person at all. ‘That’ was a creation of your own mind, an illusion. Like the sense of seeing itself…images projected and processed in some part of your brain. We see what we want to see, we believe what we want, or have been conditioned to believe, including about ourselves.
    Don’t know if anyone’s ever read the Dr Suess books. There’s one called Trouble in getting to Solla Sellew. Sometimes, trouble comes from all directions. Above, below, in front and behind. Those of us who have encountered highly aggressive and manipulative individuals, allowed into our own lives or even through someone close to us (me both), or even born or adopted into a family containing one or more such individuals…of course our life paths are affected, deeply by the experiences.
    The beautiful thing is, we’re still alive. We feel. We have access to our feelings, emotions. We don’t need to predate and ‘feed’ off anyone else, for our emotional or material needs. We have allowed others to predate on us, manipulate us because we just didn’t know. We were naive. It has happened to me so many times..the rage has nearly killed me. Then, the epiphany..these experiences, so similar..I am part of this ‘pattern’ of abuse. The internal journey had to begin. Truth is, these people have been my greatest teachers. It would be great if the world was full of beautiful, undamaged souls in human bodies (which is what we all are when born?). I hope one day it is. But truth is it isn’t. And as the highest predator in the natural world, humankind really is the most dangerous animal in the zoo.
    My experiences have encompassed male, female, gay, straight, bi, black, white, old…different nationalities…’income’ classifications….religions….the soul has no colour, race or gender. If you don’t believe in the existence of soul, spirituality then ok. I do, and is what keeps me going.
    Aggression – relational and interpersonal aggression is not just a male problem, not at all. In my experience, the female covert aggressors have been just as, if not more, problematic and insiduous, damaging than the male ones. Just my experience…the problem is one of aggression, and those of us who are neither aggressive or manipulative will always be potential targets/prey of people who are.
    I do remember that intuition always warned. I just ignored it, wanted to see the best.
    So thankyou Dr Simon, and all the commentators/sharers of experience, knowledge and information on this site.
    To freedom..

    Jess

    1. Hi Jess, do you think a mouse gets picked off by a cat because it didn’t want to believe the cat was a predator? Or that a woman gets abducted and raped because she didn’t listen to her gut?
      I agree with some of your post but also take acception to some of it. Gut feelings don’t always steer you in the right direction and a thief who wants in your house can pick a lock or smash a window.
      More later, welcome.

    2. Hi Jess and welcome, I think there is a lot in your post that is uplifting, true and does make some valid points. One being the idea of grooming. To a certain extent we are all groomed to perform our roles from the moment of birth by families, institutions and society in general. So depending on what you are born into and what you are subjected to can make a huge difference in how you deal, see and interpret the world around you and behaviour in others. As LisaO has pointed out if you are targeted then things such as your intuition are manipulated right from the start so immediately you are doubting yourself. This is why so many confident women are taken in. Having said that, I do agree that for myself I can look at the personal issues that made me vulnerable and I have the ability to change that. I can even look at any character flaws I have and improve those. I can choose to look at the positives of this experience and learn from them, which I do and I am grateful for the love and support of friends and family. Yet I fear over generalisations that seem to say that we all have some aspect within us that has “ ENABLED” this to happen to us. I don’t believe that is so in all cases. Say that to someone who as a child was abused, how did they enable that? They were preyed upon by someone who knew right from wrong and took advantage of innocence.
      I also believe you cannot ignore the cultural aspects of abuse and aggressive behaviour. This is displayed across the world when you look at domestic violence statistics. Take into account that for centuries it has been considered the norm for a man to be in control of his wife and use force. This type of thing has been almost institutionalised in to society. The inequalities in the society are still very much apparent. Ask any woman who has been victimised by the legal system. There are many. It takes a long time for a society to change and this is indicative in such statistics. I know some will say there are just as many women who are abusing men, my personal belief is that I don’t believe that, I think it’s just that women are starting to stand up for themselves and that is interpreted by those who hold on to archaic beliefs of male hegemony who manipulate that belief. And okay my feminist beliefs might be showing here! This may not be a politically correct assertion to make but I am quite willing to make it. I am not saying that women cannot be character disturbed or are all innocent victims but I do believe there is a gender inequality within society that enables the violence toward women and children to continue. There are many other aspects to this culture of violence and character disturbance and as a whole we have to combat this in our own ways by taking personal action to improve ourselves and be positive citizens. We also have to acknowledge the other influences and take those on as well.
      I hope I haven’t gone too far off base from what you were trying to say and I certainly don’t mean any disrespect but it’s just that yes, we do need to move on in a positive way. We do need to acknowledge our own flaws and assess what it is about us that may or may not have led us into our situations. We also need to know our own selves, see who we are but there are many aspects to the dynamics of human behaviour, abuse and the trauma suffered by those subjected to abuse. It’s not always so simple to say smile, be grateful you’re alive and can still hold on to positive feelings. I don’t believe that everyone who has been abused is somehow involved in the “pattern of abuse” or responsible for it and I think there is a danger to imply that it is from a therapeutic viewpoint.

      1. Tori, one thing I think gets ignored for the most part in the male abuse vs the female abuser debate/ discussion is that women are at a physical disadvantage a huge part of the time and in a lot of situations. We by in large are the weaker of the two physically. I used to hate it, and of course didn’t understand it then, when Spathtard would stand over me during a fight or prefight. I used to ask him to please sit down with me. I am sure it was some form of subtle intimidation. I get the creeps sometimes when I think about how strong men are and how easy it would be to overpower me.

        1. That’s exactly right Puddle, when you have statistics that say one woman a week dies due to domestic violence (not sure what they are in the US) that speaks volumes. The physical differences are as much the key as other aspects. It’s the physical dominance that causes fear and fear incapacitates victims, even the threat of violence can render someone into a paralytic state. It was that fear that stopped me from calling in the law. I guess that’s why I do have strong feelings about the enabling aspect or pattern of abuse theories. Honestly unless you’ve lived it I don’t think you can really understand. Since going through this and going to court etc I have met some women who have gone through the most tragic of situations which makes mine look like a walk in the park. One young girl who put her life on the line to save her baby from a murderous maniac. I won’t go into details and I can’t describe how it made me feel to hear her story. She was an amazing young woman and in that day we bonded quite strongly to help get each other through. That poor girl lives in fear all the time it has caused her the most serious of psychological problems and yet she still fights to keep herself and her family safe from this madman. Who received hardly any jail time at all for the crime he committed. I dare say she is happy to be free but if you were to say to her how did you participate in your abuse…well I wouldn’t be game enough to even suggest that because quite rightly she would turn around walk out and not even give that any credence at all. I believe all situations are vastly different, unique and have their own elements to them despite the overall similarities. What is true for one person who is subject to abuse is not necessarily true for another one.

          1. Tori, very well put. It was not all that long ago that it was legal to beat your wife, child, animals. Even thoug it is “illegal” now I believe there is carry over, not to mention league or not, it still goes in at an alarming rate and the core issue is rarely addressed even if someone is caught and punished.

    3. Jess,
      It seems like you have really learned from your experiences, it is wonderful to see that you have grown and matured, in spite of and because of, the manipulative and hurtful people you encountered. It is horrible to experience these people in our lives, to be able to overcome the anger and find a way to move on is a true testament to your character.

      We all have different experiences, and sometimes the best we can hope for is to learn more about ourselves (and to learn more about these types of people so we are more aware and able to protect ourselves from them). For me in my situation with my hb, I can see how my beliefs played a part in it as well as misguided ideas taught to me about other people that kept me in the dark. Wanting to believe the best, disbelieving those things that didn’t make any sense. However, I don’t think that I “allowed” myself to be manipulated, there may have been “red flags” but if you have no reason or until things got so much that his mask was slipping off too often, I had no reason to find out what those warning signs meant. I have sought a lot of help over the years, and even in all that time, even that help was not able to truly “help” in seeing what was really going on.

      I do want to add to when you say, “That’ was a creation of your own mind, an illusion. Like the sense of seeing itself…images projected and processed in some part of your brain.” I think in my case, the illusion was not really a creation of my own mind, the illusion was created by the DC in my life. Some of the stuff was so subtly crazy-making that I don’t think my mind could even process it at all, I think that which seemed so odd was just discarded. When my mind would try to process it, it didn’t seem to fit anywhere; since my mind couldn’t process it would just discard it. Yes, in my marriage there was always a sense that something was not quite right, but what was it? That was something else that just didn’t make sense, when attempting to get help or to confront him, I wouldn’t be able to truly articulate what it was that was wrong. Often I came across as the crazy one, been told that I had trust “issues”, was too “suspicous”, etc. So often I would be looking at my own issues, improving myself, and wouldn’t even be looking at him or attempting to make sense of it. And to be honest, at least I could make sense of myself, it was often easier to look at my own faults and deal with those, then have to look at his and try to make sense of things.

      One thing I really like the first time I read In Sheep’s Clothing by Dr. Simon was two terms that I came across. When reading his book it was like some light turned on, suddenly things made sense, it was like I was reading about my hb on ever page. But the two terms that really helped me put my finger on the heart of the issue with my highly manipulative DC were “impression management” and “responsibility avoidance”. I had never heard those terms before and it was like WOW. By the end of the book I thought to myself … “I think Dr. Simon’s met my husband and done a case study on him.” Then it was even more amazing to find this forum and find out that I am not alone. That each of our experiences our different, it is somehow oddly the same too.

      Anyways, I’ve found a long way to say that it is amazing to see that you’ve come out better from your experiences and I truly hope you are able to share a little of what your journey looked like to get to that better place.

      1. Sheri, thank you for taking the time to make these distinctions. They can seem like splitting hairs but truly they are not. Me being the eternal hair splitter that I am, I just didn’t want to go there again. Low and behold I didn’t need to.
        It’s reasuring that you and others see these subtle yet important differences and don’t “roll over” to general misused or over used concepts and beliefs. I personally think it takes a great deal of dedication and reflection to see things for what they really are. Courage too because the truth is not pretty or easy to swallow. So much more to all of this……

  10. Welcome Jess,

    Lovely post with some uplifting thoughts, particularly about being happy we are able to appreciate life and others in a healthy way. I wonder about the whole, “just listen to your gut,” approach, too. I just haven’t been able to reach any firm conclusions on that, though I know, as a general rule of thumb, it’s the way to go.

    Something I have become increasingly aware of is the intuitive hunches that are initially ignored. But, this makes sense if you have been targeted by somebody who is actually using your intuition to fool you. Intuition can be gamed. That’s the essence of a successful com game. Smoke and mirrors. Magic. Sleight of hand.

    I appreciate your journey and understand the rage and how hard it must have been for you. Spiritual rewards can be accrued through the bleakest of experiences. Inspiring that you have managed to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I think it’s probably easier to do if you have really good friends, if you haven’t suffered financial chaos and if you don’t have to have ongoing relationships with CD’s.

    Being targeted by a sadistic CD was probably the worst thing that ever happened to me. I don’t think I could have recovered as quickly as I did without all of the loving support I received from a wonderful therapist an aloof but caring husband. Had I been mired in a relationship I couldn’t dissolve quickly, I would not be able to have a spiritual perspective. It would be beyond my capabilities.

    What practical factors in your own life helped to facilitate your own spiritual journey?

  11. Hi everyone, and thanks for the comments. Like you Lisa0, being targetted by a sadistic and physically violent CD was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I don’t know if I ever recovered, that’s why I’m here…wry smile.
    Out of that ‘relationship’ (looking back it was more of a one on one cult scenario) was born a child, and the *serious* (as if any of it isn’t) violence (punches to the head, finger stabbing ranting/enforced lectures/destruction of property, things) began with her birth.
    He didn’t live in my home. Was physically big and strong, into martial arts, and there wouldn’t be many men who would fight him. It sounds so sick now, and it was, the way I ‘fought’ was to not cry or let him see that I was hurt, even when literally almost unconscious. I didn’t feel that I could talk to anyone about it. I was in deep trouble. Trauma. With a baby to protect. I had never seen or experienced violence like that. At last, as it began to get more frequent and more physically violent, I spoke up to his mother. That’s when I found was on my own, dealing with this brute. Wasn’t only me fearful of him, though that not said exactly. He was familiar with the police, not frightened of them or anything they would throw at him. I left everything, we got away, I ran, with baby, far away. Never had much money, struggled alot, worked and made sure she knew she was loved and safe. She’s grown now, confident, caring, lovely. The one good thing out of something which I now know was never healthy or good – my relationship with her biological father. And when I talk about my part in that, I don’t mean to blame in any way for being lied to, manipulated and mind-controlled, allowing someone to beat me up over months, or anyone else who’s had that happen to them. Far from it.
    That was the worst relationship, but I never really looked at the issues I needed to look at…I was too busy. So now, am older, some time, am looking. And one of the things have begin to realise was my relationship with myself was not good. Have always disliked aggression, yet found myself often around it, not always physical. So that’s part of my journey, and I’m not talking about anyone else here, but me when I say I allowed someone to beat me up. To bully me. Am back having more contact with my mother, she’s not one of the people that Dr Simon deals with alot, but there sure is, was alot of aggression there and am sure learned that flight and avoid response in the family. There’s a better way, and that’s what brings me here, and thanks
    jess

    1. Hello Jess — glad you are seeing a bit of light at the end of your tunnel — you’ve had a very difficult time of it. One book that really helped me many years ago was Abraham Maslow’s Motivation and personality. It’s now a college textbook and expensive to buy, but you might be able to get a copy through interlibrary loan. Or there are some PDF files if you Google for the book. It posits what a healthy personality should be, was a real eye-opener for me. Peace and hope from Elva

    2. Wow Jess…..you have really been through it. What a story. You really sound like a strong person and a survivor, your daughter is fortunate to have you as her mother.
      Please know that while it may appear that you “allowed” yourself to be abused, it’s not always as simple as that because of so many dynamics that can potentially contribute to an abusive situation. You have seen and learned a lot from what you have been through. Remember, you didn’t know then what you know now.
      Stay strong and welcome.

    3. Jess, I’m so sorry for what you went through and I can relate to much in your story. Particularly the physical violence, breaking things, punches to the head and having no fear of the police! Mine was very much like that…I might not be out of it as long as you have and still sifting through the mess of it all. When you say you allowed someone to beat you up and bully you, I understand. I can see where you are coming from now and I’ve lived similar throughout life. Although I see it from the point I didn’t stand up for my rights, making him accountable and pursuing charges against him out of fear. Fear of what he would do to me etc… that’s my issue. I know I am coming from it at a different angle. I agree to that you have to know your own self better and that’s becoming apparent to me as well. There’s so much to learn from each other when we find ourselves in and coming out of these situations, and to learn from ourselves and about ourselves. I thank you for having the courage to share your story and what you’ve learned. It gives so much hope to many!

  12. Hi Jess, You have come a long way. I hope that you don’t have too much ongoing sadness from it all. When you say you are scarred, I hope it isn’t too deep and if it is that it is the type of scarring that builds you. By your first post it sounds like you have made the most out of your experience. You sound like a lovely person.

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