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Relationship abusers often entrap their future victims with intense romance. Violent and controlling relationships may begin with overwhelming attention, sweet words and gifts that make future victims close their eyes to the red flags indicating potential abuse.
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Ever had a victim-blamer claim you were “codependent?” That you in some way deserved the abuse, or that it was your fault? Let them know: Codependency was a term historically used to describe interactions between addicts and their loved ones, not victims and abusers.
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1. It takes a hell of a long time to heal because you can’t avoid the aftermath of dating a narcissist. It’s impossible to avoid the pain, and you know it, so you accept it.
2. Your self-worth goes down the drain. You feel completely lost. After a narcissist is done with you, you feel simply put, like a piece of shit—unable to continue your life, unable to recognize yourself.
3. Before he walked into your life, you were a normal girl, but after he is done with you, you lose your dignity; you lose your sense of who you once were.
4. You try to hide your pain. You try to hide the fact that anything in this world touches you, but you fail every time. You’re extremely vulnerable,and you can’t hide it.
5. You feel invisible because he convinced you that you were a nobody.
6. Your eyes will tell the truth about how you feel. You can put on a fake smile, but your eyes are filled with sorrow.
7. You don’t smile anymore because you want to but because you have to. You know people are worried about you, so you smile to ease them. You haven’t smiled sincerely for a long time. And that is just a price you have to pay for dealing with a narcissist.
8. You are guarded. You don’t want to talk about what happened. Building emotional walls around yourself is the only thing you can do to feel safe. You need protection, and for now, you’re the only person who can do that.
9. Dating a narcissist doesn’t come without a cost. You are depressed and anxious all the time, and you weren’t like that at the beginning. That is a side-effect you get from being in a toxic relationship.
10. You can’t go through the healing process alone. Only the most sincere friends will stick around through that period. Only people who genuinely care about you are going to be your endless support. Accept their help; it will be easier.
11. You don’t believe in the good in people anymore. Because you’ve fallen into his trap, you don’t trust anyone. The only thing you see when you look around is people who want to hurt you. The only thing you see is him, wherever you go.
12. You don’t need to be judged. You know you’ve made a mistake. All you need now is understanding and patience. The pain won’t just go away, and anyone who says, ”Get it over with already!” has no idea what you’re going through.
13. You still can’t swallow what happened to you. You still don’t believe it. It all seems like a bad dream from which you’re going to wake up any minute now.
14. You need approval. You need encouragement. It’s hard to snap out of the reality that you’ve lived in for so long. It’s hard not to wait for something bad to happen. You’ve lived your life that way, and it’s impossible to hit the reset button within just a day or two.
15. You don’t trust people. The person you were connected the most with is the person who failed you the most. Every time you meet someone new, you’re doubtful. Every time someone does something nice for you, you wait for the price you have to pay.
16. At the moment, you don’t know how to love. You’re bruised, and love is something so distant to what you know. You’re afraid to like anyone, let alone to actually feel love.
17. You try to avoid emotional suffering, so you apologize all the time. You’re sorry even when you don’t have to be sorry. When dating a narcissist, that was all you had to say to save yourself from being punished. You had to be the bad guy. You’re apologizing for the smallest thing because you’re still so insecure.
18. You hide your feelings because you’re scared you’re going to pay a price for feeling something. The more you showed your feelings in your relationship with a narcissist, the worse he treated you.
19. You’re scared to of coming across as clingy, dependent or overly emotional. So you choose to take the easier road, and you bottle your feelings up. You keep everything to yourself.
20. One day, you’ll want to be left alone with your thoughts, and the next day, that lonesomeness will suffocate you. Your mood will switch within hours.
21. You need someone to be there for you. Someone to convince you’re going to be fine. You are a strong woman, at least you were once, but for now, you need someone to protect you until you get back on your feet. Until you get back your old self.
22. You need someone to actually keep the promises they’ve told you. You need someone who’ll finally put you first after you’ve been dwelling at the bottom for so long. You need to be important; you need to feel alive.
This article was first printed here
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We’d had the conversation one thousand times before, and I’d told my best friend I would really leave my abuser this time. The words rang hollow though, as she gave me the sad look I knew only too well. Even as I tried and tried to leave him, each time saying it was really over this time, we both knew the bonds were too tight.
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Lorena is very matter-of-fact about the whole thing. “They always just focused on it …” — as in her husband’s detached and reattached and then, a couple of years later, surgically kind-of enlarged penis. That was all the media, before now, before the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement, when we were all less evolved as humans, wanted to talk about.
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Conflict is a normal part of any relationship and, during heated conversations, feelings of anger and frustration can swell, causing us to snap at our partners. However, when I hear about people who make threats, resort to name-calling, and yell whenever they get riled up, I get concerned. It’s normal to lose one's cool occasionally if you’re arguing with your partner about something, but if these verbal slingshots happen regularly, it may be a sign of emotional abuse.
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Banks and financial service providers are failing to adequately recognise the warning signs of economic abuse and family violence experienced by customers. Despite changes in recent years to banking industry guidelines including the push for widespread staff training from the Australian Bankers’ Association, a 2017 survey of 98 banks, building societies, credit unions and credit providers found an alarming lack of awareness of family violence amongst front line staff who rarely identify customers experiencing violence or are even aware of support services. Most responding institutions said they did not have family violence training for staff or plans to introduce it.
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Gaslighting refers to a devastating form of emotional and psychological abuse, as the gaslighter manipulates and chips away at their victim’s sense of self and reality.
Gaslighting is insidious and difficult to prove. There are no physical scars or markings. Often the perpetrator is charismatic – the sort of person everyone knows and likes. Gaslighting tends to be associated with narcissistic personalities, but it’s important to note that while some traits are common, there’s no definitive corollary. Gaslighters lie. When caught by their lies – they’ll lie about lying, often deflecting blame onto their victim.
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One of the most common tactics abusers use is to shift blame for the abuse onto the victim. The abuser will claim the victim is the abuser because of the reaction the victim has. The abuser may even attempt to convince the victim that there is nothing worth reacting over and that the victim is overreacting to the abuse. What the victim is actually experiencing is called reactive abuse.
Reactive abuse occurs when the victim reacts to the abuse they are experiencing. The victim may scream, toss out insults, or even lash out physically at the abuser. The abuser then retaliates by telling the victim that they are, in fact, the abuser.
Why abusers rely on it
Abusers rely on this “reactive abuse” because it is their “proof” that the victim is unstable and mentally ill. The abuser will hold these reactions against the victims indefinitely. It could be years later and the abuser will say, “Well, back in (whatever year), you had this reaction and acted all crazy. You’re the crazy one! You need help.”
Sometimes abusers use this reaction as an excuse to go to police or even file for protective orders of their own.
A method of manipulation
To manipulate is to unfairly influence a situation. When an abuser claims they are the ones being abused, they are manipulating us into believing we are at fault for the abuse. The abusers are conditioning and manipulating us to accept the blame. The longer this blame shifting goes on, the longer we will believe we are to blame for the reactive outbursts and abuse that the abuser is dishing out. We will begin to believe we are the violent and unstable ones.
This manipulation can even go so far as to cause us to feel shame. When we react, it causes the abuser to claim we are the abusive ones. But these reactions also add a second element to the mix – they cause us to feel bad about ourselves to the point of guilt and shame. We act against what we know to be true about ourselves – that we are good, kind, capable, loving people. But that goes out the window when we experience the guilt and shame more and more. The guilt and shame that the abusers continue to condition us to feel.
Reactive abuse vs. mutual abuse
According to domesticshelters.org, mutual abuse is when both partners are equally abusive to one another. Many survivors often ask themselves if they are abusive too because of how they react, but the truth is that mutual abuse is very rare and many experts don’t believe it exists. The power and control dynamics involved in domestic violence would make it nearly impossible for both partners to be abusive.
The key word here is “react.” That’s the difference between reactive abuse and mutual abuse. Victims and survivors react to the abuse doled out by the abuser.
What we can do instead
When you see yourself reacting in this manner, many times you begin to say to yourself, “Whoa, this isn’t me. This isn’t how I am normally.” When you begin to ask yourself those questions, you know something is not right with the relationship. I know I thought those things before – that I knew how I was reacting wasn’t me. It wasn’t who I was. That’s what the abuser wants – to make you question yourself, your character, and your integrity. But many times, by the time we get to the point of asking ourselves those questions, we are either too scared to leave the abuser or we just don’t have the means to do so.
So what can we do instead? The abusers bank on us reacting negatively to their tactics. When we begin to truly think about how we respond to them, we are taking back our power. We begin to respond and not react. To react is almost like an automatic thing – it’s the fight or flight response. But responding involves a thought process that requires us to really consider our thoughts and actions.
Within the realm of domestic violence, there is always one who initiates or instigates the problems in the relationship. It comes back to that one person needing power and control over their victim. That’s what abuse is – the imbalance of power. The abuser, however, would like us to believe otherwise and say, “Well, we were abusive to each other. It’s mutual abuse.” It’s because the abusers will never accept responsibility for their actions and instead shift blame for the abuse onto us.