Saturday, March 5, 2011
Meredith Baxter, Psychological Abuse, "Gaslighting," and Domestic Violence
Today's blog entry was inspired by Meredith Baxter's revelation this week that her ex-husband was abusive to her. Also, she came out as being a lesbian in 2009. See: "Meredith Baxter Alleges Ex-Husband David Birney Abused Her"
Perhaps, in a later blog entry, I'll discuss the number of women in the lesbian community has sky-rocketed in recent years with the number of ex-married (to a man) women now seeming to outnumber the lesbian who consider themselves always a lesbian. Why? Has it been abusive men pushing normally "straight" women into the arms of lesbians or is it that many of these women were lesbian all along and didn't realize it? I'd love for someone to do a study or a survey of this ... may NBC or CNN?
Back in January 2011, I add a new web page to my web site, Pat McClendon's Clinical Social Work, called: Psychological Violence (or more completely, Psychological Violence or Psychological Abuse or Ambient (Stealth) Abuse (including "Gaslighting") and Bullying.
This web page evolved from reading online material about domestic violence and in particular, this article: "Domestic Violence and Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships." The article discusses the signs that you are being abused: emotionally (psychologically) or physically; cycle of abuse; and its progression from psychological abuse to overt abuse, aka, domestic violence. The statement which I found most disturbing was: "Violent and abusive behavior is the abuser’s choice ... Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his or her behavior. In fact, abusive behavior and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you. Abusers use a variety of tactics to manipulate you and exert their power: Dominance; Humiliation; Isolation; Threats; Intimidation; and Denial and blame." The article described each tactic used by the abuser. Then, there is the section of the "The cycle of violence in domestic abuse:" Abuse; Guilt; Excuses; "Normal" behavior;" Fantasy and planning; and Set-up. These last two (2) were jaw dropping experiences for me. Is this true for ALL abusers? or just some of the worst abusers?
Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he'll make you pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.
Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing you.
Here is an example they cite:
The Full Cycle of Domestic Violence: An Example: A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, "I'm sorry for hurting you." What he does not say is, "Because I might get caught." He then rationalizes his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her "If you weren't such a worthless whore I wouldn't have to hit you." He then acts contrite, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries. What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because "you're having an affair with the store clerk." He has just set her up. Source: Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service
How diabolical! Are abusers really this depraved? They tell you that they love you, don't they? I did NOT want to believe it! I read on ... more online articles.
Gaslighting? What is that, you ask? Gaslighting: The extremes of emotional abuse by Jeanne Sparks-Carreker answers that question well, and these two (2) entries really bring it home:
page 2: " ... When no sympathy or support for the hurt feelings are available, more times than not it is due to the Gaslighting abuser not wanting to empathize with their spouse/girlfriend because he would then have to take responsibility as having been the one who caused the hurt. Gaslighting methods offer no solution to the problems between couples because only genuine love can comfort and understand, an intimacy that is a must in a relationship. ...."
page 6-7: " ... Eventually a Gaslighting abuser wins the ultimate war, the final argument, when she begins to collapse mentally and emotionally. The worst Gaslighting abusers will then mock her, humiliate her by sharing her "wrongdoings" (of searching for a solution) with their mutual friends, hoping to get a response of "I wouldn't listen to all that nagging, Man," from them. Perhaps it better eases his conscious to have others tell him it is all her, or that she's just a bitch, or just a nag. Hell, she's not worth the effort it takes him to keep on living with her! ..."
Then there was the web site about bullying. I read this article and learned how I have been bullying in various settings in my life: "Bullying: Half the population are bullied ... most people only realise it when they read this page. What is bullying, how to recognise bullying."
Then this blog entry continued clearing my eyes of all those cobwebs of denial: "The Silent Victims" - Karin's World - Blog (Saturday, 24 July 2010), she writes:
" ... There is a lot of prejudice when it comes to infidelity and emotional abuse. There seems to be the common belief (at least until the Sandra Bullock "case") that women are cheated on if they are unattractive and/or not interested in sex. Likewise, there seems to be a general opinion that women in abusive relationships are to blame for the continuous abuse, because "…they could just get up and leave". I hope to help spread the understanding that it is far from being that simple. ..."
I continued to stumble along reading more online articles over the course of several months and I was slowly and methodically becoming jaded! Totally jaded!
Definition of jaded: "The end result of having a steady flow of negative experiences, disappointment, and unfulfillment fed into a person where they get to the point where their anger circuits just sort of burn out and they accept disillusionment." (Source: Urban Dictionary)
Then, to make matters worse, the "final straw" was when I stumbled upon: Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited By: Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. Be sure to see his videos on YouTube. One of his entries states:
"... Avoid all contact with the narcissist in your life. All other advice is spurious and erroneous. Narcissists cannot be “fixed” and, if you do not keep absolute distance, will ruin your life thoroughly. To believe that one can affect the narcissist’s wellbeing is malignant optimism, a manifestation of the rescue fantasies that are so common among co-dependents. ..."
Some part of me wished that I have not read all this material. I wanted to remain naïve and continue to believe that people are basically good! I wanted to hold onto my malignant optimism.
I have selected a few of his videos, as well as a few of his articles that are eye-opening on my web page: Psychological Violence (or Psychological Abuse or Ambient (Stealth) Abuse (including "Gaslighting") and Bullying for your review.
I don't believe that anyone is a pure psychopath, narcissist, borderline (BPD), bipolar, etc. but some certainly may have psychopathic, narcissistic, borderline, bipolar, etc. "parts." I believe in the multiplicity of people: "All of us operate at multiple levels of consciousness, which we acquire through socialization and we are microcosms of our families and our society." (Rivera, 1989) See my article: "Multiplicity and Victimization: What part of `No!' don't you understand? vs. What part of you doesn't understand `No!'?"
If you think that you or someone that you hold dear is in an abusive relationship, I recommend that you review ALL material on my web page: "Psychological Violence or Psychological Abuse or Ambient (Stealth) Abuse (including "Gaslighting") and Bullying." See threse two (2) sections: Why do the victims stay? and Who are the abusers and why do they abuse?
Self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol probably keeps many victims in a relationship longer with their abusers much longer because while it medicates their pain, it fogs their thinking and it can also lead to addiction to drugs and/or alcohol.
Passages Malibu Drug Rehab & Alcohol Rehab Addiction Treatment Cure Center states that the Philosophy of Passages Addiction Cure Center is that: "Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a symptom, not a cause, and not a disease. Addiction is triggered by either mental or physical pain; the drugs and alcohol are what you do to cope with it. To heal your addiction permanently, you must first go to the underlying cause, and heal it; then the addiction will cease to exist. In essence, you will have removed the thorn, the pain will subside, and so will the need for drugs and alcohol. ..."
More about addictions when I blog about Charlie Sheen.
Update: March 23, 2013