Sanctuary for the Abused

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Hoover Maneuver

How to Recognize it and Move Forward

The Hoover maneuver is named after the famous vacuum cleaner. In the language of our community, it describes behavior common among [abusers] and those who have borderline traits. It occurs most often when a victim threatens to leave, or actually leaves, a relationship. The intent of the hoover is to get the victim back into the relationship. This behavior has its roots in the intense fear of being alone or being abandoned that is often at the very core of the abuser's sense of self.

It can also occur when the abuser has left the relationship, and is feeling frightened and alone. Since abusers know which ’buttons or triggers’ to push in their partners, and since victim’s are such dedicated and compassionate people, it is far too often successful.

Those with the disorder use all kings of behaviors to ’suck you back into’ the relationship. This can include through kindness, guilt, apologies, tears, threats of suicide, protestations of eternal love, the list is endless. For instance: "I’ve NEVER loved anyone the way I love you. No one has ever been as good to me as you are." etc. (Remember, the abuser knows all your vulnerabilities, and knows how to use them for their purposes and to meet their needs, not yours. It is always about them, and never about you. Except when it’s ’your fault’.)

The primary drive for a ’hoover’ is the fear of abandonment. It is driven by the abuser’s fear of abandonment, of being alone. See the abandonment/engulfment cycle for more on abandonment. Since the abuser lacks a sense of self and takes that sense of who they are from the person they are with at that moment, they fear being alone almost more than death itself.

During a typical hoovering your abuser reverts to the way they were when you were courting. They may act in loving kind ways, swear he/she will get help, says, promises, vows, that s/he won’t do a particular abusive behavior again, will really change this time, will stop drinking, or using drugs or raging or whatever you are confronting them about.

When the victim believes the hoover and re-enters the relationship, this is referred to as having "been hoovered" . It is important to note that the promises of change won’t last. Often there is an immediate escalation in the raging, splitting, black and white thinking. The longer the relationship continues, the shorter will be the ’honeymoon’ of promised change. And of the most dangerous times for a victim is after a hoover has been successful, the relationship has resumed, and the next rage occurs. It is VERY common for physical violence to begin, or to escalate. No matter what your personal situation, please make a safety plan. IF you are in danger, leave. Go to a shelter, or a friends house. Stay safe.

Now, getting ’sucked back’ into a relationship that you once decided to leave, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

When it happens often enough, without any real change, it helps you to make a lasting decision that leaving is the right thing to do. IT may encourage you to seek counseling and therapy. You may feel "stupid" later, but it isn’t necessarily stupid. It’s just part of what you have to do to make sure you are ready to do what you have to do to recover.

Before seeking counseling and therapy, and beginning the long road to recovery, many victims have reported a feeling that ’they’re under the power’ of the abuser... that they have little choice in going back to the relationship. This may be supported by the financial situation of the victim, or threats that the abuser person with the disorder has made. This is also common.

You realize that you are healing when you recognize what’s going on and begin to make an informed decision based on what is truly best for you and your children, rather than the guilt, shame, blame, fear of being alone, or what ever ’hook’ the disordered person uses to pull you back into the relationship with the abuser.

In the final analysis, you make your own doghouse . If you are comfortable in the doghouse, or if the attempted abandonment actually produces better behavior from your significant other, then you may end up feeling better about it all.

All this being said, unless the abuser in your life is getting serious therapy, you can depend on the fact that someday, and probably far too soon, the borderline behaviors WILL repeat. Eventually, you may begin to recognize the hoover in process. This is a close encounter of the hoovering kind.

People do not spontaneously recover from abusive personality disorders simply because they are threatened with abandonment or because the victim goes or stays.

Once you begin to understand abusiveness and how it affects the one you care about, you can use the hoovering episode to create opportunities for healthier boundaries.

For example, you might say, "We can get back together for six months and see if we can make it work. I will only consider this if we agree to enter into a written legal signed agreement regarding joint and individual therapy, care of the children, custody issues, money, or whatever, before doing so.  Otherwise, please start packing and get out in 24 hours."

This type of countermove may introduce healthier and more effective boundaries for you or your children.

Disclaimer: The information on the site ( is based on personal experiences of the authors and members of our e-mail mailing list. It is NOT meant to replace professional advice or take the place of counseling, therapy or additional personal research.

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shared by Barbara at 12:34 AM 20 comments


Friday, December 15, 2017

Why PTSD Needs Treatment and Does Not 'Get Better' with Time

The Time Bomb

Inside every person with PTSD is a time bomb. It is merely a matter of time before symptoms begin to show up. One might exhibit all manner of symptoms in nearly everything s/he does, and still live what appears to be a normal life. However, it doesn’t take much to bring out full-blown symptoms of a full-blown case of PTSD.

Unemployment, Illness, and too much Free Time (and worry) exacerbates PTSD symptoms. Can be acute when untreated.

Additional Stress: Stress kills; we know this. Additional stress in the life of a PTSD sufferer will bring out their PTSD symptoms. Even good stress can increase one’s symptoms; good stress such as a birth, or a new love, or a promotion at work. Anything that wobbles the apple cart — little changes, big changes, good changes, bad changes—will promote PTSD symptoms. 

Then there are the huge stressors; the larger the stressor, the more virulent the PTSD symptoms.

Reminders: anything that reminds the PTSD sufferer of the original trauma will pique symptoms. Additionally, the anniversary of a trauma will cause a rise in PTSD symptoms. 

[i.e. Someone making one mistake can and often does become a target of PTSD sufferer's anger. The PTSD suffer may lay all manner of unrelated or perceived 'slights' at the feet of the person who may have done something wrong in their eyes.] 

If a woman was assaulted near an elevator, elevators will trigger her symptoms. If she remembers the date of her assault, as the anniversary approaches, symptoms increase.

I know of no more disagreeable situation than to be left feeling generally angry without anybody in particular to be angry at. - Frank Moore Colby

Persons with PTSD hold in a lot of anger. It is a free-floating anger with no real target and very subtle causes. It simmers below the surface and can jump out at inappropriate times, aimed at the wrong person for the wrong reasons (displaced anger).

For instance: following a rape, the rape victim is filled with rage. The specific targets of this rage are quite obvious: the rapist, the system that puts the victim on trial, the doctors for their insensitivity, and the list can go on depending on the ordeal the rape victim endures. However, years later, this anger can still exist, simmering just below the surface.

And though many argue that the cues to the anger have changed, that the original incident has softened in the mind of the sufferer, that this, that that—it's all "neither here nor there" because there is no logic, no reasoning with chronic PTSD, everyone and everything is the cause, and the nearest person or object can be the target.

Normal people get warm, then angry, then angrier, and progress to a state of rage if the stimulus to the anger is not abated. A PTSD sufferer can go from A to Z immediately... When anger strikes, it quickly turns to rage.

Anger Management classes are usually prescribed for PTSD patients, however, the patient might still never arrive at the cause of this anger, as the original cause has faded, leaving only the anger. Learning to deal with this anger is much more productive at this juncture than trying to discover its cause or causes. In a good Anger Management class, the PTSD sufferer can learn that one cannot control one’s initial feeling about something aggravating, however, s/he can control her/his reaction.

Being the target, displaced or not, of this anger is one of the major causes of "secondary PTSD," the disorder suffered by those close to the PTSD sufferer. Oftentimes families walk on eggshells to avoid doing anything to upset the PTSD sufferer. Children, wives, friends, neighbors and lovers tend to withdraw and avoid any and all possible confrontation. Partners of PTSD patients must keep alert and note when the anger outbursts increase in intensity and the intervals between them shorten. This is a sure sign that there is something else occurring within the patient and a trip to the therapist is needed.

(Domestic Violence Centers are a good place to contact about counseling if you have no insurance)

excerpted from here

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shared by Barbara at 12:20 AM 13 comments


Thursday, December 14, 2017



In addition to his work as head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit and founder of the elite private sector consulting firm, The Academy Group, Roger L. Depue has also worked as a police chief, a SWAT Team member, and is a former Brother of the Order of Missionaries of the Holy Apostles. He speaks widely as a corporate consultant and has been interviewed by People magazine, CBS’ 48 Hours, and most recently The Discovery Channel, for whom he constructed a hypothetical profile of Deep Throat for an upcoming program pegged to the 30th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. The Academy Group also served as the real-life basis for the Fox television series, Millennium.

Most recently, in addition to his ongoing casework with The Academy Group, Depue acted as a consultant on Universal Studio’s Red Dragon, a feature film version of Thomas Harris’ first Hannibal Lecter novel, which opened in October 2002 starring Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes and Edward Norton. His memoir, Between Good and Evil co-written by Susan Schindehette, was recently published by Warner Books.


SHE WAS SOMEONE’S DAUGHTER, fifteen years old, found lying on a mound of earth just off a desolate country road, with frosted pink polish on her fingernails and a gaping wound where her throat had been cut. As I surveyed the scene, surrounded in stillness, I studied the details of this tableau—little girl’s hands, clothing missing below the waist, bruises circling the fragile neck. But beyond the obvious evidence of violence, there was something jarring about the way the killer had left her here.

She was on her back, arms straight down at her sides. Yet after a brutal sexual assault, her legs were together now at knees and ankles, drawn up and tipped, almost demurely, to one side. Her killer had left her in a position of peaceful repose. Gently, it seemed. Tenderly. As if she were a sleeping child.

For ten years beginning in 1979, I was chief of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, at a time when its pioneering work in the field of criminal profiling first came to prominence, thanks in part to author Thomas Harris, who picked the brains of our profilers in conjuring up the character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter for his novel The Silence of the Lambs.

Today, in a related incarnation, I am the founder of The Academy Group, an elite international crime consulting firm whose half dozen members, all FBI, CIA, or Secret Service veterans, constitute a brain trust of the world’s top forensic behavioral science experts in their respective fields: from sexual homicide and child predation, to international terrorism and espionage.

In that role I have listened to tapes of the Columbine school shootings, studied the rage wounds inflicted with a golf club on Martha Moxley’s skull, analyzed the JonBenet Ramsey ransom note, and helped a colleague plan his approach in debriefing the notorious FBI agent-turned-traitor Robert Hanssen. I am summoned to cases when all other investigations have failed, when law firms, police jurisdictions, or the emotionally devastated families of victims have nowhere else to turn. It is work that calls on me to be an advocate, a father confessor, and, sometimes, even a bit of the diviner.

In the course of my career I have seen horrible things—cruelty and human depravity in every imaginable permutation. In the 1980s I supervised agents investigating a series of bizarre homicides in California, in which the killer not only eviscerated his victims, but lingered at the scene while blood pooled in their abdominal cavities. Only after carefully studying the crime scene did we recognize the special proclivity of twenty-seven-year-old Richard Trenton Chase, whom the press later christened the Vampire Killer. It was revealed in the odd ring marks found on the floor next to victims, the kind that might be left by someone drinking from a blood-filled plastic yogurt cup.

A decade later, reviewing the murder of a housebound elderly woman, I noted the tremendous amounts of blood—sprays of darkening crimson on the walls, ceiling, and floors in the room where she was killed. But I was also struck by something that had not been given much significance by local police—the fact there was no blood at all on any of the room’s baseboards. The killer, I realized, must have wiped them down afterward.

Even after forensic lab tests confirmed that scenario, there was still no obvious message, of the kind left as a taunt by the seasoned serial killer at a crime scene. This was evidence of a disordered perpetrator clinging to the control afforded by familiar routine. Of someone, I thought, who might recently have left a psychiatric facility. Ultimately, investigation did indeed bear out that theory—the perpetrator was a young man just released from a California state mental hospital, whose job had been cleaning the baseboards on his ward.

Now, at a rural crime scene near a farmer’s field, I was trying to solve the brutal murder of an innocent fifteen-year-old girl. And I began to try to decipher what our killer had written with his savagery.

Bloodstains pointed to the precise location of the murder, a dense wood thick with stands of evergreen and maple, fifty feet from the side of the road. But the killer had chosen not to leave his victim there, and I knew what that meant. Any subject with normal human response—one who had, say, raped this young girl and then, in a panic, killed her—would have done all he could to hide his crime and avoid detection. He would have left her in the woods, perhaps in a shallow grave, or at least made some effort to hide her corpse in the brush. But this killer followed a different imperative. He had deposited his victim where he was certain she would be found.

Why would he do such a thing? Was he a braggart, a provocateur? I didn’t think so. I have seen sexual predators make unspeakable displays of their victims, violating them with gun barrels and broom handles in what hardened investigators refer to as “stick jobs.” But this killer had shown no such contempt. It seemed to me that there was only one plausible explanation: He had moved his victim because he did not want to leave her in the woods, unseen, where she might be vulnerable to insects or animals. He wanted whoever found her to appreciate her—as he had—with her freshness and beauty still intact.

Even so, he might have dragged her by the hair, or simply dumped her body. Instead, he had gone to the trouble of laying her carefully on a raised berm, higher than the surrounding ground. And then I began to understand. This killer did what human beings have done with objects of veneration since time immemorial. He had placed his victim on an altar.

Quickly, the pieces began to fit. After he had brutalized her, he felt remorse, very nearly a tenderness toward her. He treated her gently after he killed her, and I knew now exactly how he had transported her to this resting place. He had carried her from the spot where he had killed her the way a parent would a sleeping child—slipping one hand beneath her back, and the other under her knees. Then, when he laid her down softly on the ground, as if not to wake her, her knees had rolled gently to one side. What did this mean?

It meant that he knew her. Finally, it was clear to me. Whoever killed this young girl had also, in his own evil way, loved her.

How can those two things—love and hate—exist together in a person? In the same way, I believe, that good and evil exist in the world. In a constant state of tension, fighting each other for dominance. I know something about that struggle. I believe that I have a deeper understanding of these things than most people do.

My work has given me a profound respect for what humans suffer at the hands of evil, and a particular sensitivity for what its victims endure. During every investigation that I participate in, there is always an invisible observer at my shoulder, whose presence I never forget. Regardless of the circumstances of a case, I am always giving voice to its silent victim.

What must this young girl’s final minutes have been like? Did she cry out while he was repeatedly stabbing her, or keep silent, breathing like a wounded animal, watching for the next glint of a blade? Did her thoughts turn to her parents in those final seconds, when she was overwhelmed by the deepest loneliness she had ever known? Did she experience a dissociative response, the sense of drifting upward and watching her own death as if from above? Or did she sink mercifully into unconsciousness, and feel nothing as her life ebbed away?

The most difficult part of solving a case is the fathoming of it, the understanding of the measure of evil that produced it. The rest—the legwork and interrogation—come only after the intuiting, as the means of proving an investigative hypothesis. In this instance, once I had a clear picture of how the crime had occurred, the rest was not difficult. Investigators narrowed their focus to a relatively short list of potential suspects, questioned them thoroughly, and ultimately charged and convicted an obsessive young man—the young girl’s neighbor.

When I was a young man, a friend taught me the ancient art of dowsing, and after a time, I became something of a practitioner myself, finding water underground as a kind of parlor trick for friends. It might seem odd that a man so rooted in grim reality would take an interest in something so ethereal. In fact, I’m fascinated by the unseen forces at play in the lives of human beings.

Still, I’m sometimes challenged by abstract intellectual discussion about the nature of evil. If Hitler genuinely believed that he was carrying out a noble mission by exterminating Jews, some wonder, was he truly evil? Were there mitigating factors, others ask, for the genocide of his countrymen carried out by Cambodia’s Pol Pot? What exactly runs through the mind of an Osama bin Laden? I’ve never had the time to engage in such armchair dialectics. My job has been to try to stop human predators before they kill again, and after studying them so closely over so many years, to me their traits seem clearly recognizable.

They are rational, sadistic, often intelligent, and almost invariably narcissistic. They see themselves as living in a realm somewhere above the rest of us, in a place where the rules of normal society do not apply. Over the years, I’ve drawn up a list of their common operating principles, something that I call the Anti-Commandments: “That which you love is what I most seek to destroy.” “Life is as meaningless as death.” “There are few things more pleasurable than hurting someone who is trying to help me.” “People die too easily. It should be more painful, and take longer.”

The depth of this psychopathic evil is beyond the comprehension of most normal people. I have seen it many times: a pedophile is arrested, a man from a comfortable, upper-class neighborhood. Suddenly, all of his neighbors express shock and disbelief. “He was such a fine, upstanding man, a doting father. Why, he even coached Little League. He can’t possibly have done what he’s accused of.”

What those good people don’t fully comprehend is that, as a pedophile, this man is, above all, a sexual abuser of children. That is what he is at his core. He hurts children because, to him, their suffering is of no consequence. It is a meaningless by-product of behavior that makes him feel good, and his own pleasure is more important to him than anything, or anyone, else. Invariably, even from behind prison bars, he will never concede that what he did was damaging to a child. No, he insists, what he did was done out of love. It’s the rest of the world that doesn’t understand.

The reality is that this man’s wife, his nice house in the suburbs, his coaching job, even his own children, are props—the artifice that covers up, and facilitates, what he truly is. He continues to do what he does because that is what he cherishes above all else. What is most real about him is his evil.

Evil is more than a vague notion. It is an entity, and it is manifest on the earth. It has reflexes and intuition, senses vulnerability, and changes its form to adapt to its surroundings. Those who do not believe the Devil walks this earth have not seen the things that I have seen.

The stories I will relate are not fabrications. I have witnessed the unbelievable. Eviscerated children. Mothers who have sold their own toddlers into prostitution, and profited from the videotapes of them being victimized by strangers. Fathers who sleep with their daughters, and their daughter’s daughters. A man who, because a six-year-old girl doesn’t know her spelling words, binds her with duct tape and pierces her with an embroidery needle more than two hundred times.

Evil is not a discrete entity that springs forth fully formed. It is born in the mind, takes root there as fantasy, and prospers when normal human restraint can no longer contain it. I have seen it devour the personalities of men like Richard Speck, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Ted Bundy, turning them into blank-faced sociopaths who clearly know right from wrong, but choose, time and again, to follow their own base urges, with complete disregard for the terrible human suffering they cause.

I believe that every act of homicide causes a slight unbalancing in the world, and that it diminishes life’s universal equation. In the interest of justice, it is imperative that someone try to right that imbalance. But the task of fighting evil can take a terrible toll on the people who are charged with it. It can cost them their families, their equilibrium, their capacity for joy.

A relentless diet of human misery and sadistic violence can bring any human being—even those armored by years of experience in a law enforcement career—to the brink of despair. I once came to that place myself. But I returned from it, because, along with the evil, I have also come to know something about the redemptive power of good.

A decade ago, I lost the person who embodied most of what was true and worthwhile in my life, and the tragedy of her death caused a grief so great that I came to question God’s very existence. I made a decision to leave the world for a holy place, one that, I hoped, would be untouched by evil. I did my searching there, and made my peace. But ultimately, I came to understand that it was only by returning to the world that I would find redemption.

I have stood at the edge of the abyss and peered down into the darkest things that human beings are capable of, at times feared that evil, and very nearly seen it bring me to my knees. But, always, I have tried to conquer it, or at least to force it into submission. In the final accounting, I am a man of faith, in spite of the work that I have done. Or, perhaps, because of it.

How is it that a human being can dwell in the midst of such depravity, be reminded every day of the suffering of victims, and emerge from it intact? Is the path of evil irrevocable, or do we have the power to change it? It’s not for me to preach or posture. I can only bear witness to what I have seen.

I believe that we are all players in an ongoing battle, one that is both larger and more subtle than we often realize. What follows is a dispatch from the front lines of that war—a cautionary tale. It is the story of one man’s travels through darkness and redemption, a testament to the belief that in the unending struggle between God and the Devil, evil prevails in this world mostly when we, through apathy, fear, or indifference, allow it to.

In the fall of 1990 a phone call came to my Virginia consulting firm, The Academy Group, from a law firm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, requesting our help with a cold case robbery-homicide that had taken place some six years before. Its victim, a young woman in her twenties, had been found early one morning, stabbed to death, in the kitchen of the fast food restaurant where she worked. Her name was Terri Brooks.
The attorney, Greg Sturn, with the firm of Harris and Harris, told me that despite a lengthy investigation, local police had never been able to solve the case. But since money was missing from the restaurant safe, and similar fast food robberies had been common in the early 1980s, the consensus was that this must have been the same thing—an armed robbery gone bad.

Now, said Sturn, the dead girl’s father and stepmother, George Brooks and his wife, Betty, intended to file a wrongful death suit against the Marriott Corporation, owner of the restaurant chain where Terri had worked. Since Terri’s death occurred while she was on the job, state law dictated the case be filed as a workmen’s compensation claim; that was the sole legal remedy available to the Brookses. And that presented a problem. Under workmen’s comp rules, the only parties eligible for a monetary award were the victim’s dependents, and Terri, who was single and childless at the time of her death, had none. Which meant that her only living survivors—her parents and siblings—could file a claim, but weren’t eligible to collect a financial settlement.

It seemed like a cruel catch-22. But there was an alternative, said Sturn. Pennsylvania law allowed one exception to the workmen’s comp provision: If a plaintiff could prove that something called “personal animus”—malevolent ill will—had existed between killer and victim, then Terri’s parents could step outside the workmen’s comp restriction and take their case to civil court. Of course, the idea that Terri’s killer knew her might well make a negligence case against the corporation more difficult to prove, but Sturn wasn’t worried about that. Marriott company policy clearly stated that employees weren’t supposed to work alone at night. And on the night she was murdered, Terri had been closing up the restaurant alone.

That was the financial issue, but of course, it wasn’t the only one. After George Brooks and his first wife—Terri’s biological mother—had divorced, he went on to raise Terri and her three brothers and sisters by himself, and it was obvious he had loved his daughter deeply. He managed to survive in the wake of her murder, as the parents of many murdered children do. But it hadn’t been easy. George Brooks did the best he could to carry on with his life. But six long years after Terri’s death, he was still grieving. He needed to know who had killed his little girl.

After talking it over with my colleague, Ken Baker, we agreed to take on the case, and I asked the law firm to send us what information they had. A few days later, it arrived—a large manila envelope of investigative reports, depositions, police reports, autopsy information, and crime scene photographs. I poured myself a cup of coffee, we closed the door behind us, and sat down at the table in our conference room to begin reconstructing what had happened to Terri Brooks in the final hour of her life.

Just after 6:00 a.m. on the foggy morning of February 4, 1984, the general manager of a Roy Rogers restaurant at Oxford Valley Road and Route 1 in Falls Township, in Bucks County, came to work. He found the outer restaurant doors unlocked, the inner doors locked, and immediately became suspicious. He went inside, and was heading for the kitchen when he saw shoes and a set of store keys on the floor. Then he discovered Terri Brooks, twenty-five, his assistant manager, lying on the floor. She had been brutally murdered, and $2,579 was missing from the office safe.

When Terri didn’t return home that morning, her father, George, called the restaurant to see if she was there. He was told Terri had been taken to the hospital. “Is she all right?” he asked. “Is she all right?” Finally, they gave him the terrible news: Terri was dead.

All murder cases are tragic in their own way, but this one broke your heart. George Brooks was working class, and he had helped put Terri through college at the University of Maryland. She hoped to have a career in restaurant management, and she often stayed after closing at the restaurant, finishing up the paperwork. She was also engaged to be married that coming summer. In fact, two days before her death, she and her fiancé had put down a deposit on a honeymoon trip to Hawaii. Later that week, Terri was going to pick out her wedding dress.

A good investigator can tell a lot about a killer by studying evidence at the scene of the crime—blood splatter, the position of the body, the pattern of wounds. But the killer isn’t the only one to leave telling information. Sometimes, the victim leaves a message, too. And as I looked at the horrific murder scene photographs, I felt it: Terri herself was trying to tell us something.

She was found lying in a pool of blood on a dark industrial tile floor, on her back, not far from the restaurant’s office, still wearing her winter jacket. Her shoes, keys, and cigarettes were lying nearby. Her face was cut and badly bruised. The hyoid bone in her throat was fractured, which meant she had been strangled. A clear plastic trash bag liner was wrapped around her neck, covering her head. And a butcher knife was protruding from her throat, lodged with such force it couldn’t be pulled out from between the vertebrae of the spinal column.

In all of my years of law enforcement, I had never before seen anything quite like it: beating, strangulation, stabbing, and suffocation—four distinct modes of death. At that moment, I had no idea who had taken this young woman’s life so brutally, or why. But I did know that whoever murdered Terri Brooks had killed her four times.

We began to piece together a hypothetical sequence of events. It was a Friday night, and the kitchen had been cleaned and prepped for the morning shift, and Terri was ready to go home. She had her coat on and her purse, cigarettes, and keys with her. She was closing up when someone came to the door. Whether she knew the person or didn’t, she let him in. Then something began to go horribly wrong. It was as if she had suddenly said to herself, “I’ve got to get out of here.” She bolted for the door, and if it had only opened outward instead of inward, she might have made it.

He hit her like a football player, tackling her so hard she was literally knocked out of her shoes. Her purse, keys, and cigarettes flew onto the floor. She was stunned, but after taking a moment to recover, she started to fight back. She had played intramural sports in college. She was young and athletic, and fought with all her strength. They exchanged blows. He punched her in the face repeatedly, hitting her as hard as he could.

At some point, he dragged her across the tile floor, causing holes in her nylons on the top of her feet, worn away by the friction. There was a tremendous bruise line across her upper chest, from where she was slammed into the stainless steel counter. He started to strangle her, with such force he fractured the hyoid bone, just below the larynx. But she continued to fight.

Then came the butcher knife. Maybe the killer was the one who took it first, from the rack above the oven. Maybe it was Terri who grabbed it in an effort to defend herself, in which case he would have wrested it away from her. She had defensive wounds on her hands, which meant that as he was trying to cut her throat, she put her hands up to keep the blade away. Finally, perhaps holding her around the neck from behind, he plunged the knife into the front of her throat, where it partially cut her spinal cord. Still, she struggled. He pulled the knife out, but only partway, and then plunged it in again, harder. This time, the blade entered between the sixth and seventh vertebrae, and severed the other half of her spinal cord. 
Now she was paralyzed from the neck down, and she went limp, slipping to the floor. When she was found, her arms and legs were not cocked or bent, but extended straight out. At that point, she would have offered no resistance.

The knife was still protruding from her throat, lodged tightly between the vertebrae of the spine. As she struggled before she was stabbed, her neck had been extended, and the blade was thrust into her with such force that when she dropped to the floor, her head snapped forward, wedging the blade between her vertebrae. Even after all that, she was still alive. The blade had not severed her jugular vein or carotid artery. Her assailant realized she was still breathing. So he went to a storage area where the supplies were kept, and found a plastic trash bag. He wrapped it around her neck and head and, in one final spasm of violence, asphyxiated her.

There are many ways to kill a human being. If the perpetrator uses a gun, it is a more distanced act, cold and impersonal. But this killer wanted the pleasure of using his hands. He wanted to see his victim’s face, to look her in the eye as she died. One thing was clear. No matter what the local police had concluded, this was no simple robbery. Terri Brooks had not been fighting for the money, or even for her virtue. This young woman had been fighting for her life.

After I examined the file and talked it over with Ken, we found that we both had the same reaction. The Academy Group had been hired by a law firm to make a determination on a legal technicality in this case—the existence of personal animus—which was very different from being assigned as a homicide investigator to find the killer. Strictly speaking, it was not our job to provide a definitive resolution to the crime.

But after seeing how Terri Brooks had met her end, Ken and I looked at each other and said, “Let’s solve the damn thing anyway.”

After all these years, it wasn’t about the accolade. I’d had plenty of recognitiby that time—citations and promotions, moments in the limelight, the respect of my peers. This was about something deeper, about knowing that the person who’d killed this young woman was still out there somewhere, living his life, as if it were the natural order of things. He’d done something unspeakable, and he was smug in the knowledge that he’d gotten away with it. There was no one to fight on Terri’s behalf. No one but us.

It wasn’t going to be easy to solve this crime, but I knew what it would take. Working along with Ken, I’d have to tap into everything I’d learned in forty years of law enforcement. Still, wasn’t that the value of the past—its bearing on the future? The search for Terri Brooks’s killer would mark a chapter in a journey that had begun many years before. It would serve as a clear reminder of where I had come from, and how far I had already gone.

Copyright © 2005 by Roger L. Depue and Susan Schindeh

thanks to Holly for bringing this book to my attention!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Online Dating Is A Hunting Ground For Narcissists And Sociopaths

By Shahida Arabi

 Is our culture becoming more narcissistic? Research indicates that a higher number of younger people are meeting the clinical criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder and that we are now living in what might be called “the age of entitlement” (Twenge and Campbell, 2009).

While there are multiple factors that contribute to the rise of narcissism in our society, access to numerous methods of connecting with others in the digital age undoubtedly exacerbates the need to be seen as “special and unique.” Accompanying this need is a blatant dehumanization of others in the search for attention, popularity and admiration.
The Tinder Generation
Mobile dating went mainstream about five years ago; by 2012 it was overtaking online dating. In February, one study reported there were nearly 100 million people—perhaps 50 million on Tinder alone—using their phones as a sort of all-day, every-day, handheld singles club, where they might find a sex partner as easily as they’d find a cheap flight to Florida. ‘It’s like ordering Seamless,’ says Dan, the investment banker, referring to the online food-delivery service. ‘But you’re ordering a person.”
Nancy Jo Sales, Tinder and The Dawn of The Dating Apocalypse
With the proliferation of online dating apps such as Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, PlentyofFish and OkCupid, there has been a visible rise of instant gratification without emotional intimacy in our dating culture. Simultaneously, the younger generation of men and women are more likely to encounter narcissists – those without empathy – at an alarming rate in their daily lives.
While malignant narcissists can be found anywhere and everywhere and there are certainly decent people on dating websites, the online world of dating provides predators with a platform can gain access to multiple victims without accountability. Here are three ways in which we encounter narcissism in the digital age and self-care tips to keep you safe.
1. Hookup culture along with online dating has made us more desensitized to physical intimacy and instant gratification. The younger generation is growing up at an exciting yet terrifying time: a time when connections can be made instantaneously, yet meaningful connections are becoming harder and harder to find. We are being conditioned to believe that we are entitled to an unlimited number of choices as we swipe through what is virtually a human meat market. The problem is, the number of choices we have is doing little to assuage the need for fulfilling and meaningful relationships. We are now looking at what some experts have aptly called “the dawn of the dating apocalypse” (Jo Sales, 2015).

Those who are looking for casual dates and sex may be satisfied with the likes of Tinder, one of the most popular dating apps used by singles, but those who are looking for something more meaningful may be traumatized and retraumatized by the number of people who pretend to be looking for a serious relationship while misrepresenting their true intentions. Studies show that deception is common on these apps, with users creating an illusory image of who they are and what they are looking for, resulting in frustrating romantic encounters (Purvis, 2017).
Self-Care Tip A digital detox is needed, especially in times like these. Frequent online dating app users may want to take a break from swiping-induced carpal tunnel and spend time alone or with family and friends rather than engaging in serial dating. Find ways to meet people organically without using these apps; attend Meetups based on your hobbies or interests, or join clubs that center on your passions; pursue activities in your local community such as group meditations or yoga with like-minded people. Look up from the screen and engage in face-to-face conversations with the people in front of you; the more we interact with others in real life, the more hope we have for connecting with humanity in more authentic ways.
If you’re going through a break-up, resist the urge to download an online dating app to ‘rush’ the healing process. In many cases, it will only delay the natural grieving process and lead to more disappointment.
2. There might be good people with earnest intentions on dating apps, but there is no doubt that many narcissists and sociopaths infiltrate these apps and use online dating as their virtual playground and hunting ground.
Online dating gives malignant narcissists and sociopaths access to numerous sources of what is known as narcissistic supply – people who can provide them with praise, admiration, and resources – without any need for any form of investment, commitment or accountability. These digital platforms also enable narcissists to construct a very convincing and compelling false mask that lures potential targets into various scams.
But perhaps the biggest ‘scam’ is when a narcissistic predator ‘cons’ his or her target into an abusive relationship, while presenting himself or herself as the ideal partner. This is easy to do online, as emotional predators can ‘morph’ into whatever identity they need in order to hook new victims and also ‘mirror’ their victims by finding out more about them through social media, as many apps now offer the ability to link to social media profiles. Predators can also adapt their profiles to create an image of themselves that appeal to their potential victims; a majority of online dating users have been shown to have profiles that stray from the truth in some capacity (Wood, 2012). 
Self-Care Tip
Manage your expectations and listen to your intuition when online. Remember, immediate intimacy with someone can be a red flag of fast forwarding to get an agenda met. Always put your safety first and try not divulge too much about your income, your career, your relationship history or any other resource a predator might find appealing before getting to know someone. Build connections slowly and organically so that you have the necessary space to step back and reevaluate when needed.
If someone gives you an odd vibe, even through the screen, trust your instincts and don’t go any further. If someone seems to have all of your same hobbies and interests, be wary that they’re not just telling you what you want to hear or love-bombing you to get what they want.
3. Monogamy and emotional availability are becoming more and more of a rarity. Our current hookup culture and the rise of online dating apps have made emotional unavailability a new normal (Garcia, et. al 2012).
Many people now feel entitled to all the benefits of a relationship without actually being in one, engaging in the real-life equivalent of the ‘it’s complicated’ Facebook relationship status with numerous partners.
Needless to say, the effects of hookup culture can be alarming to the psyche and have a psychological impact on the way that we view relationships and intimacy in the modern age. Both younger and older generations alike are becoming accustomed to the idea of having another date or rebound at their fingertips, without having to do the inner work of healing from past relationships or working on their self-esteem.
People can ‘latch’ themselves onto the next partner without taking the time to grieve or learn from past mistakes. And those who have done the inner work to heal can find obstacles on their path to finding a fulfilling relationship, with more and more potential mates feeling they can “always do better.”
Emotionally unavailable partners can now reap the benefits of relationships without calling anyone their boyfriend or girlfriend; they can now place numerous partners into “friends with benefits” type situations.
For those who are looking for something casual and carefree, this can be empowering and exciting. For those who are looking for a longer-term commitment, however, they may have to sort through many covert manipulators before finding someone who is compatible with their needs and desires.
Double standards against women engaging in casual sex also permit emotionally unavailable, narcissistic men to benefit a great deal from these casual arrangements, while punishing women for ‘acting like men’ if they “dare” to also date multiple partners (Kreager and Staff, 2009).
Self-Care Tip
Stay true to your standards when dating, whether you’re using an online dating app, meeting people in real life or both. If you’re a person who is interested in a longer-term commitment and you feel unable to engage in sex casually without developing feelings, don’t give into anyone else’s sexual demands or expectations for the sake of pleasing them or in the hopes of ‘winning’ a relationship. A half-hearted relationship that results in more losses than gains is one where no one wins – except, of course, the person who gets all the benefits of your company without the effort.
Remember that you are already worthy of a great and healthy relationship. You don’t have to ‘earn’ the ability to be treated with respect, honesty and decency. Manage your expectations online and realize that there will be many people in cyberspace who will try to get your maximum investment while putting in the minimum effort. Integrity and transparency are becoming less and less commonplace and is especially rare online.
Do not put up with the dwindling standards for human decency. Instead, be very wary of and cut off contact with predators online who attempt to manipulate you into giving them what they want while dismissing your needs. Their actions will always speak louder than words.
The right person who is compatible with you will want what you want – whether you meet them online or in real life. There won’t be any ‘gray areas’ with the right person nor will you ever have to compromise your own standards to be with them. You won’t ever have to wonder whether you’re just ‘hanging out’ or going out. It will be clear – and that will be the relationship that will be worth investing in.


Garcia, J. R., Reiber, C., Massey, S. G., & Merriwether, A. M. (2012). Sexual hookup culture: A review. Review of General Psychology, 16(2), 161-176. doi:10.1037/a0027911

Kreager, D. A., & Staff, J. (2009). The Sexual Double Standard and Adolescent Peer Acceptance. Social Psychology Quarterly, 72(2), 143-164. doi:10.1177/019027250907200205

Purvis, J. (2017, February 12). Finding love in a hopeless place: Why Tinder is so “evilly satisfying”. Retrieved here.

Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2009). The narcissism epidemic: Living in the age of entitlement. New York: Atria Paperback. Wood, J. (2012, February 14).

Detecting Online Liars. Retrieved from Psych Central. This article has been adapted and originally appeared on Psych Central as The Danger of Narcissists in Online Dating: How To Cope in A Culture of Instant Gratification.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dealing With Manipulative People

An Excerpt from the book:

In Sheep's Clothing by George K. Simon
Two Basic Types of Aggression
There are two basic types of aggression: overt-aggression and covert-aggression. When you're determined to have something and you're open, direct and obvious in your manner of fighting, your behavior is best labeled overtly aggressive. When you're out to "win," dominate or control, but are subtle, underhanded or deceptive enough to hide your true intentions, your behavior is most appropriately labeled covertly aggressive. Now, avoiding any overt display of aggression while simultaneously intimidating others into giving you what you want is a powerfully manipulative maneuver. That's why covert-aggression is most often the vehicle for interpersonal manipulation.

Acts of Covert-Aggression vs. Covert-Aggressive Personalities
Most of us have engaged in some sort of covertly aggressive behavior from time to time. Periodically trying to manipulate a person or a situation doesn't make someone a covert-aggressive personality. Personality can be defined by the way a person habitually perceives, relates to and interacts with others and the world at large.

The tactics of deceit, manipulation and control are a steady diet for covert-aggressive personality. It's the way they prefer to deal with others and to get the things they want in life.

The Process of Victimization
For a long time, I wondered why manipulation victims have a hard time seeing what really goes on in manipulative interactions. At first, I was tempted to fault them. But I've learned that they get hoodwinked for some very good reasons:

A manipulator's aggression is not obvious. Our gut may tell us that they're fighting for something, struggling to overcome us, gain power, or have their way, and we find ourselves unconsciously on the defensive. But because we can't point to clear, objective evidence they're aggressing against us, we can't readily validate our feelings.

The tactics manipulators use can make it seem like they're hurting, caring, defending, ..., almost anything but fighting. These tactics are hard to recognize as merely clever ploys. They always make just enough sense to make a person doubt their gut hunch that they're being taken advantage of or abused. Besides, the tactics not only make it hard for you to consciously and objectively tell that a manipulator is fighting, but they also simultaneously keep you or consciously on the defensive. These features make them highly effective psychological weapons to which anyone can be vulnerable. It's hard to think clearly when someone has you emotionally on the run.

All of us have weaknesses and insecurities that a clever manipulator might exploit. Sometimes, we're aware of these weaknesses and how someone might use them to take advantage of us. For example, I hear parents say things like: "Yeah, I know I have a big guilt button." – But at the time their manipulative child is busily pushing that button, they can easily forget what's really going on. Besides, sometimes we're unaware of our biggest vulnerabilities. Manipulators often know us better than we know ourselves. They know what buttons to push, when and how hard. Our lack of self-knowledge sets us up to be exploited.

What our gut tells us a manipulator is like, challenges everything we've been taught to believe about human nature. We've been inundated with a psychology that has us seeing everybody, at least to some degree, as afraid, insecure or "hung-up." So, while our gut tells us we're dealing with a ruthless conniver, our head tells us they must be really frightened or wounded "underneath." What's more, most of us generally hate to think of ourselves as callous and insensitive people. We hesitate to make harsh or seemingly negative judgments about others. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they don't really harbor the malevolent intentions we suspect. We're more apt to doubt and blame ourselves for daring to believe what our gut tells us about our manipulator's character.

Recognizing Aggressive Agendas
Accepting how fundamental it is for people to fight for the things they want and becoming more aware of the subtle, underhanded ways people can and do fight in their daily endeavors and relationships can be very consciousness expanding. Learning to recognize an aggressive move when somebody makes one and learning how to handle oneself in any of life's many battles, has turned out to be the most empowering experience for the manipulation victims with whom I've worked. It's how they eventually freed themselves from their manipulator's dominance and control and gained a much needed boost to their own sense of self esteem. Recognizing the inherent aggression in manipulative behavior and becoming more aware of the slick, surreptitious ways that manipulative people prefer to aggress against us is extremely important. Not recognizing and accurately labeling their subtly aggressive moves causes most people to misinterpret the behavior of manipulators and, therefore, fail to respond to them in an appropriate fashion. Recognizing when and how manipulators are fighting with covertly aggressive tactics is essential.

Defense Mechanisms and Offensive Tactics
Almost everyone is familiar with the term defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are the "automatic" (i.e. unconscious) mental behaviors all of us employ to protect or defend ourselves from the "threat" of some emotional pain. More specifically, ego defense mechanisms are mental behaviors we use to "defend" our self-images from "invitations" to feel ashamed or guilty about something. There are many different kinds of ego defenses and the more traditional (psychodynamic) theories of personality have always tended to distinguish the various personality types, at least in part, by the types of ego defenses they prefer to use. One of the problems with psychodynamic approaches to understanding human behavior is that they tend to depict people as most always afraid of something and defending or protecting themselves in some way; even when they're in the act of aggressing. Covert-aggressive personalities (indeed all aggressive personalities) use a variety of mental behaviors and interpersonal maneuvers to help ensure they get what they want. Some of these behaviors have been traditionally thought of as defense mechanisms.

While, from a certain perspective we might say someone engaging in these behaviors is defending their ego from any sense of shame or guilt, it's important to realize that at the time the aggressor is exhibiting these behaviors, he is not primarily defending (i.e. attempting to prevent some internally painful event from occurring), but rather fighting to maintain position, gain power and to remove any obstacles (both internal and external) in the way of getting what he wants. Seeing the aggressor as on the defensive in any sense is a set-up for victimization. Recognizing that they're primarily on the offensive, mentally prepares a person for the decisive action they need to take in order to avoid being run over. Therefore, I think it's best to conceptualize many of the mental behaviors (no matter how "automatic" or "unconscious" they may appear) we often think of as defense mechanisms, as offensive power tactics, because aggressive personalities employ them primarily to manipulate, control and achieve dominance over others. Rather than trying to prevent something emotionally painful or dreadful from happening, anyone using these tactics is primarily trying to ensure that something they want to happen does indeed happen. Using the vignettes presented in the previous chapters for illustration, let's take a look at the principal tactics covert-aggressive personalities use to ensure they get their way and maintain a position of power over their victims:

Denial – This is when the aggressor refuses to admit that they've done something harmful or hurtful when they clearly have. It's a way they lie (to themselves as well as to others) about their aggressive intentions. This "Who... Me?" tactic is a way of "playing innocent," and invites the victim to feel unjustified in confronting the aggressor about the inappropriateness of a behavior. It's also the way the aggressor gives him/herself permission to keep right on doing what they want to do. This denial is not the same kind of denial that a person who has just lost a loved one and can't quite bear to accept the pain and reality of the loss engages in. That type of denial really is mostly a "defense" against unbearable hurt and anxiety. Rather, this type of denial is not primarily a "defense" but a maneuver the aggressor uses to get others to back off, back down or maybe even feel guilty themselves for insinuating he's doing something wrong.

Selective Inattention – This tactic is similar to and sometimes mistaken for denial It's when the aggressor "plays dumb," or acts oblivious. When engaging in this tactic, the aggressor actively ignores the warnings, pleas or wishes of others, and in general, refuses to pay attention to everything and anything that might distract them from pursuing their own agenda. Often, the aggressor knows full well what you want from him when he starts to exhibit this "I don't want to hear it!" behavior. By using this tactic, the aggressor actively resists submitting himself to the tasks of paying attention to or refraining from the behavior you want him to change.

Rationalization – A rationalization is the excuse an aggressor tries to offer for engaging in an inappropriate or harmful behavior. It can be an effective tactic, especially when the explanation or justification the aggressor offers makes just enough sense that any reasonably conscientious person is likely to fall for it. It's a powerful tactic because it not only serves to remove any internal resistance the aggressor might have about doing what he wants to do (quieting any qualms of conscience he might have) but also to keep others off his back. If the aggressor can convince you he's justified in whatever he's doing, then he's freer to pursue his goals without interference.

Diversion – A moving target is hard to hit. When we try to pin a manipulator down or try to keep a discussion focused on a single issue or behavior we don't like, he's expert at knowing how to change the subject, dodge the issue or in some way throw us a curve. Manipulators use distraction and diversion techniques to keep the focus off their behavior, move us off-track, and keep themselves free to promote their self-serving hidden agendas.

Lying – It's often hard to tell when a person is lying at the time he's doing it. Fortunately, there are times when the truth will out because circumstances don't bear out somebody's story. But there are also times when you don't know you've been deceived until it's too late. One way to minimize the chances that someone will put one over on you is to remember that because aggressive personalities of all types will generally stop at nothing to get what they want, you can expect them to lie and cheat. Another thing to remember is that manipulators – covert-aggressive personalities that they are – are prone to lie in subtle, covert ways. Courts are well aware of the many ways that people lie, as they require that court oaths charge that testifiers tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

Manipulators often lie by withholding a significant amount of the truth from you or by distorting the truth. They are adept at being vague when you ask them direct questions. This is an especially slick way of lying' omission. Keep this in mind when dealing with a suspected wolf in sheep's clothing. Always seek and obtain specific, confirmable information.

Covert Intimidation – Aggressors frequently threaten their victims to keep them anxious, apprehensive and in a one-down position. Covert-aggressives intimidate their victims by making veiled (subtle, indirect or implied) threats. Guilt-tripping and shaming are two of the covert-aggressive's favourite weapons. Both are special intimidation tactics.

Guilt-tripping – One thing that aggressive personalities know well is that other types of persons have very different consciences than they do. Manipulators are often skilled at using what they know to be the greater conscientiousness of their victims as a means of keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious, and submissive position. The more conscientious the potential victim, the more effective guilt is as a weapon. Aggressive personalities of all types use guilt-tripping so frequently and effectively as a manipulative tactic, that I believe it illustrates how fundamentally different in character they are compared to other (especially neurotic) personalities. All a manipulator has to do is suggest to the conscientious person that they don't care enough, are too selfish, etc., and that person immediately starts to feel bad. On the contrary, a conscientious person might try until they're blue in the face to get a manipulator (or any other aggressive personality) to feel badly about a hurtful behavior, acknowledge responsibility, or admit wrongdoing, to absolutely no avail.

Shaming – This is the technique of using subtle sarcasm and put-downs as a means of increasing fear and self-doubt in others. Covert-aggressives use this tactic to make others feel inadequate or unworthy, and therefore, defer to them. It's an effective way to foster a continued sense of personal inadequacy in the weaker party, thereby allowing an aggressor to maintain a position of dominance.

Playing the Victim Role – This tactic involves portraying oneself as an innocent victim of circumstances or someone else's behavior in order to gain sympathy, evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. One thing that covert-aggressive personalities count on is the fact that less calloused and less hostile personalities usually can't stand to see anyone suffering. Therefore, the tactic is simple. Convince your victim you're suffering in some way, and they'll try to relieve your distress.

Vilifying the Victim – This tactic is frequently used in conjunction with the tactic of playing the victim role. The aggressor uses this tactic to make it appear he is only responding (i.e. defending himself against) aggression on the part of the victim. It enables the aggressor to better put the victim on the defensive.

Playing the Servant Role – Covert-aggressives use this tactic to cloak their self-serving agendas in the guise of service to a more noble cause. It's a common tactic but difficult to recognize. By pretending to be working hard on someone else's behalf, covert-aggressives conceal their own ambition, desire for power, and quest for a position of dominance over others.

Seduction – Covert-aggressive personalities are adept at charming, praising, flattering or overtly supporting others in order to get them to lower their defenses and surrender their trust and loyalty. Covert-aggressives are also particularly aware that people who are to some extent emotionally needy and dependent (and that includes most people who aren't character-disordered) want approval, reassurance, and a sense of being valued and needed more than anything. Appearing to be attentive to these needs can be a manipulator's ticket to incredible power over others.

The consummate seducer melts any resistance you might have to giving him your loyalty and confidence. He does this by giving you what he knows you need most. He knows you want to feel valued and important. So, he often tells you that you are. You don't find out how unimportant you really are to him until you turn out to be in his way.

Projecting the blame (blaming others) – Aggressive personalities are always looking for a way to shift the blame for their aggressive behavior. Covert-aggressives are not only skilled at finding scapegoats, they're expert at doing so in subtle, hard to detect ways.

Minimization – This tactic is a unique kind of denial coupled with rationalization. When using this maneuver, the aggressor is attempting to assert that his abusive behavior isn't really as harmful or irresponsible as someone else may be claiming. It's the aggressor's attempt to make a molehill out of a mountain.

I've presented the principal tactics that covert-aggressives use to manipulate and control others. They are not always easy to recognize. Although all aggressive personalities tend to use these tactics, covert-aggressives generally use them slickly, subtly and adeptly. Anyone dealing with a covertly aggressive person will need to heighten gut-level sensitivity to the use of these tactics if they're to avoid being taken in by them.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Bill of Rights for Domestic Violence Victims

Domestic Violence Victim Bill of Rights

* You have the right NOT to be abused.

* You have the right to anger over past abuse.

* You have a right to choose to change the situation.

* You have a right to freedom from fear of abuse.

* You have a right to request and expect assistance from police or social agencies.

* You have a right to share your feelings and not be isolated from others.

* You have a right to want a better role model of communication for yourself and your children.

* You have a right to be treated like an adult.

* You have a right to leave the abusive environment.

* You have a right to privacy.

* You have a right to express your own thoughts and feelings.

* You have a right to develop your individual talents and abilities without harrasssment.

* You have a right to legally prosecute the abusing spouse.

* You have a right not to be perfect.

(Adapted from; Victimology: An International Journal., Vol. 2 1977-78, No. 3-4, p.550)

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Detaching from The Loser

Guidelines for Detachment

by Joseph M Carver, Ph.D., Psychologist

Separating from "The Loser" often involves three stages: The Detachment, Ending the Relationship, and the Follow-up Protection.

The Detachment

During this part of separating from "The Loser", you recognize what you must do and create an Exit Plan. Many individuals fail in attempts to detach from "The Loser" because they leave suddenly and impulsively, without proper planning, and without resources. In many cases, "The Loser" has isolated their partner from others, has control of finances, or has control of major exit needs such as an automobile. During the detachment phase you should...

Ending the Relationship

Remembering that "The Loser" doesn't accept responsibility, responds with anger to criticism, and is prone to panic detachment reactions - ending the relationship continues the same theme as the detachment.

- Explain that you are emotionally numb, confused, and burned out. You can't feel anything for anybody and you want to end the relationship almost for his or her benefit. Remind them that they've probably noticed something is wrong and that you need time to sort out your feelings and fix whatever is wrong with you. As disgusting as it may seem, you may have to use a theme of "I'm not right for anyone at this point in my life." If "The Loser" can blame the end on you, as they would if they ended the relationship anyway, they will depart faster.

- If "The Loser" panics, you'll receive a shower of phone calls, letters, notes on your car, etc. React to each in the same manner - a boring thanks. If you overreact or give in, you've lost control again.

- Focus on your need for time away from the situation. Don't agree to the many negotiations that will be offered - dating less frequently, dating only once a week, taking a break for only a week, going to counseling together, etc. As long as "The Loser" has contact with you they feel there is a chance to manipulate you.

- "The Loser" will focus on making you feel guilty. In each phone contact you'll hear how much you are loved, how much was done for you, and how much they have sacrificed for you. At the same time, you'll hear about what a bum you are for leading them on, not giving them an opportunity to fix things, and embarrassing them by ending the relationship.

- Don't try to make them understand how you feel - it won't happen. "The Loser" only is concerned with how they feel - your feelings are irrelevant. You will be wasting your time trying to make them understand and they will see the discussions as an opportunity to make you feel more guilty and manipulate you.

- Don't fall for sudden changes in behavior or promises of marriage, trips, gifts, etc. By this time you have already seen how "The Loser" is normally and naturally. While anyone can change for a short period of time, they always return to their normal behavior once the crisis is over.

- Seek professional counseling for yourself or the support of others during this time. You will need encouragement and guidance. Keep in mind, if "The Loser" finds out you are seeking help they will criticize the counseling, the therapist, or the effort.

- Don't use terms like "someday", "maybe", or "in the future". When "The Loser" hears such possibilities, they think you are weakening and will increase their pressure.

- Imagine a dead slot machine. If we are in Las Vegas at a slot machine and pull the handle ten times and nothing happens - we move on to another machine. However, if on the tenth time the slot machine pays us even a little, we keep pulling the handle - thinking the jackpot is on the way. If we are very stern and stable about the decision to end the relationship over many days, then suddenly offer a possibility or hope for reconciliation - we've given a little pay and the pressure will continue. Never change your position - always say the same thing. "The Loser" will stop playing a machine that doesn't pay off and quickly move to another.

Follow-up Protection

"The Loser" never sees their responsibility or involvement in the difficulties in the relationship. From a psychological standpoint, "The Loser" has lived and behaved in this manner most of their life, clearly all of their adult life. As they really don't see themselves at fault or as an individual with a problem, "The Loser" tends to think that the girlfriend or boyfriend is simply going through a phase - their partner (victim) might be temporarily mixed up or confused, they might be listening to the wrong people, or they might be angry about something and will get over it soon. 

"The Loser" rarely detaches completely and will often try to continue contact with the partner even after the relationship is terminated. 

During the Follow-up Protection period, some guidelines are:

- Never change your original position. It's over permanently! Don't talk about possible changes in your position in the future. You might think that will calm "The Loser" but it only tells them that the possibilities still exist and only a little more pressure is needed to return to the relationship.

- Don't agree to meetings or reunions to discuss old times. For "The Loser", discussing old times is actually a way to upset you, put you off guard, and use the guilt to hook you again.

- Don't offer details about your new life or relationships. Assure him that both his life and your life are now private and that you hope they are happy.

- If you start feeling guilty during a phone call, get off the phone fast. More people return to bad marriages and relationships due to guilt than anything else. If you listen to those phone calls, as though taping them, you'll find "The Loser" spends most of the call trying to make you feel guilty.

- In any contact with the ex "Loser", provide only a status report, much like you'd provide to your Aunt Gladys. For example: "I'm still working hard and not getting any better at tennis. That's about it."

- When "The Loser" tells you how difficult the breakup has been, share with him some general thoughts about breaking-up and how finding the right person is difficult. While "The Loser" wants to focus on your relationship, talk in terms of Ann Landers - "Well, breaking up is hard on anyone. Dating is tough in these times. I'm sure we'll eventually find someone that's right for both of us." Remember - nothing personal!

- Keep all contact short and sweet - the shorter the better. As far as "The Loser" is concerned, you're always on your way somewhere, there's something in the microwave, or your mother is walking up the steps to your home. Wish "The Loser" well but always with the same tone of voice that you might offer to someone you have just talked to at the grocery store. For phone conversations, electronic companies make a handy gadget that produces about twenty sounds - a doorbell, an oven or microwave alarm, a knock on the door, etc. That little device is handy to use on the phone - the microwave dinner just came out or someone is at the door. Do whatever you have to do to keep the conversation short - and not personal.


In all of our relationships throughout life, we will meet a variety of individuals with many different personalities. Some are a joy to have in our life and some provide us with life-long love and security. Others we meet pose some risk to us and our future due to their personality and attitudes. Both in medicine and mental health - the key to health is the early identification and treatment of problems - before they reach the point that they are beyond treatment. In years of psychotherapy and counseling practice, treating the victims of "The Loser", patterns of attitude and behavior emerge in "The Loser" that can now be listed and identified in the hopes of providing early identification and warning. When those signs and indicators surface and the pattern is identified, we must move quickly to get away from the situation. Continuing a relationship with "The Loser" will result in a relationship that involves intimidation, fear, angry outbursts, paranoid control, and a total loss of your self-esteem and self-confidence.

If you have been involved in a long-term relationship with "The Loser", after you successfully escape you may notice that you have sustained some psychological damage that will require professional repair. In many cases, the stress has been so severe that you may have a stress-produced depression. You may have severe damage to your self-confidence/self-esteem or to your feelings about the opposite sex or relationships. Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors are available in your community to assist and guide you as you recover from your damaging relationship with "The Loser".


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