Are You in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship? (Men’s Edition)

Are You In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship (Special Edition for Men) | Narcissistic Abuse Rehab

Are You In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship? (Special Edition for Men) is an updated and expanded version of the recovery tool I created last year to help people assess their relationship health. This version is specially crafted for men seeking to determine whether or not they are experiencing psycho-emotional abuse in interpersonal relationships with family members, intimate partners, peers, and colleagues.

The creative inspiration came when Veronica Archer reached out to me and invited me to speak on the topic of Male Survivors at the ‘You Get To Be YOU This Time’ online conference, I wanted to contribute a recovery tool tailored to the unique needs of men and boys.

Why is emotional abuse difficult to spot?

Insidious is a word we often hear to describe psycho-emotional abuse because it is deceitful, underhanded and cunningly disguised loving-kindness. For this reason, most people who are targeted for this kind of aggression do not realize it’s happening to them until long after the fact. It is only when the damage has been done to the individual’s well-being and quality of life, that they discover that trail of exploitative tactics used to take advantage of them.

This book helps men reflect on their lived experiences and recognize how subtle patterns of abuse can manifest in relationships with manipulators.

Holding space for male survivors

Some of the unique challenges male survivors face are gender stereotypes, specifically that men cannot be abused and in domestic abuse discussions men can only be the perpetrator or the aggressor but never the recipient of abuse. In reality, some men experience domestic abuse in interpersonal relationships in the context of family abuse and intimate partner abuse, both in heterosexual and same sex relationships. Therefore, it is essential to hold space for male survivors of domestic abuse.

What you will learn in ‘Are I In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship? (Special Edition for Men)’

While the focus of the first half of the book is on recognizing patterns of emotional abuse in men’s interpersonal relationships, the workbook section helps men tap into their agency and opens up vistas for healing and growth.

After the relationship health self-assessment exercise, the workbook uses your discoveries to help you gain fresh insight about where you are today and what actions are necessary to help you reach your goals.

In conclusion

I would like to end this post by reiterating the message I shared with Veronica in the interview: I developed this tool for male survivors in the hope that men and boys will know that they are seen, they are loved, and they can heal.

You Get To Be YOU This Time

You Get To Be You This Time | Veronika Archer

You Get To Be YOU This Time is a new podcast series by Veronika Archer that aims to help people transcend and overcome long-term abuse in toxic relationships.

I am proud to be participating in a discussion on the topic of Male Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse. This is a topic that’s very close to my heart and I hope to provide as much useful information and resources as possible.

30 Internationally Recognized Experts

Veronika’s passion for helping survivors is contagious and she has organized an amazing and informative series with over 30 internationally recognized experts to help you break free from negative relationship patterns.

Some of the other speakers included in each 30-minute episode are:

  • Ashley Berges
  • Dr. Brenda Wade
  • Caroline Strawson
  • Darlene Lancer
  • Duane Robert
  • Dr. George Simon
  • Dr. Gary Sayler
  • Katherine Woodward Thomas
  • Laura Charanza
  • Dr. Marni Feueman
  • Dr. LeslieBeth Wish
  • Melanie Tonia Evans
  • Dr. Michael Kinsey
  • Dr. Ramani S. Durvasula
  • Randi Fine
  • Tracy Malone

I share Veronika’s belief that we all deserve a life where we can be our authentic selves, free from fear or shame. It’s time to start learning how to trust our instincts and applying them to our decisions so that we can attract healthy, loving, liberating, and supportive relationships.

30 FREE ‘You Get To Be YOU This Time’ Recovery Tools

Special gifts will be provided for survivors throughout the ‘You Get To Be You Series.’ These include recovery tools and strategies created by the expert panel.

Learn how to access your intuition, deepen self trust and create the relationship you secretly desire, without wasting any more time analyzing your ex and living in the past.

You will receive 30 free gifts (valued in total at over $3,000) to help you get to be you the next time around.

The sign up page goes live on August 18, 2020. Log on to join me and this extraordinary group of speakers here.

The Use of Isolation in Coercive Control

The Use of Isolation in Coercive Control | Narcissistic Abuse Rehab | Julie Levine

I guarantee there is an entire generation that will instantly relate the word isolation to the 2020 COVID-19 crisis.

I do not.

I will not.

Every time I hear that word, my past haunts me. 

Images flash in my mind. 

But they are not of the present social distancing, wearing a mask, quarantine, and antibody testing. The images brought to my mind remind me of a different place, a different time when I was a different person.

Isolation is a reality of post-separation abuse for countless survivors around the world. It is one of the most powerful tools in the malignant narcissist’s game of power, control, and manipulation

The aims of isolation are two-fold:

  • The smaller a malignant narcissist can make your world, the more you will feel dependent on them. 
  • Isolating the victim makes it easier for the manipulator to distort the third partys’ perception of the victim and dominate the narrative.

An Invisible Prison

The last few months of social isolation have been extraordinarily difficult for me. I am reminded of my current strengths daily, as well as the person I used to be. In the blink of an eye, I remember things I wish I could forget.

When I was a married woman, living in a New York suburb, we had an electronic gate at the end of a very long driveway. Located in a well-to-do, bucolic neighborhood, the gate was attached to a concrete wall separating the house from the road – from the world.

There was a large metal box on one side of the front wall, which contained the gate’s motor and electronics. I did not know how to open nor operate the secured machinery. And there were video cameras everywhere. An ordinary person would think they were for security purposes — but I will get to that. 

You can be living in the dark hole of abuse – and not realize how bad it is until you start telling other people what is happening.

Julie Levine

The man I was then married to was in total control of operating the gate. On good days, I had a code to get in and a motion detector operated to let me out. However, on bad days when he felt I was disobedient when I had not been silent or had not worshipped him accordingly – he disconnected that gate when he left for work, abandoning me in a home with what I believed was no way out.

My sons would have to walk around or climb over the gate to get to the cul de sac for their school bus. When the gate was rendered inoperable – my world shrank and became even more restricted. I was ordered to remain at home until further notice.

Isolation was a punishment. It was deliberate. It was a minute component in the cycle of abuse.

Survival Mode in Coercive and Controlling Relationships

Looking back, I wonder: who was that woman who received such punishment? 

I could not drive a car out of the driveway with that damn gate stuck closed – but why didn’t I walk around it like my sons?

I never even considered it. I obeyed him. I lived in constant fear.

I was married to a man for almost two decades who used isolation amongst other Coercive Control tactics to dominate me. In the years since my divorce, I learned that his behaviors are consistent with narcissistic abuse.

In my case, other kinds of harm were added to the mix, such as domestic violence, and financial abuse. 

During my lengthy, high conflict divorce, the man who would later be known as my “ex” was diagnosed by several forensic psychologists as:

  •  a narcissist
  • a psychopath
  • a sociopath
  • having anti-social personality disorder, and
  • being morally bankrupt.

Did I ever hear of those terms before court-ordered reports?

Certainly not. 

For almost 20 years, I was so deep in survival mode, that I did not even consider there to be personality disorders and distinctions. It was just my way of life, a way of life I needed to survive for my children. 

Coercive Control destroys support systems

How Coercive Control Destroys Support Systems

Gradually, friends left my life, my family became estranged, people I had known for years stopped contacting me.

More isolation.

Eventually, the only human contact I had was with my children’s teachers and occasionally parents of my children’s classmates. But even those contacts diminished.

I tried socializing with other people in our community – as couples normally would – but that never lasted too long.

My ex-husband would tell me that people didn’t like me or only bothered with me because they thought I had money, convincing me that all break downs in communication with the outside world were my fault.

For many years, I never questioned it.

I was a class mother for my sons in school, an assistant soccer coach, a softball mom, etc.

I lived my life day to day as a mother of two sons whom I cared for and practically raised alone as their father showed no interest in them until I began to stand up for myself, mentioning divorce.

Throughout their childhoods, my sons learned that the only time their father showed them attention was when they would mirror his interests. My sons eventually understood how the equation worked, dropped their interests and passions, and reflected their father.

No more soccer, softball, or basketball. Playdates were few and far between.

Looking back at all this I realize that he was isolating his sons almost as much as he was isolating me. I didn’t know back then that children too could be targets for Coercive Control.

Coercive Control is Captivity

Getting back to that gate at the entrance of my home address — everyone thought it was to keep people out when, in reality, its purpose was to keep me in.

There were days I just stayed at home, often recovering from bruises, with no means of escape.

I guess I was so traumatized, controlled, and terrified that I did not dare climb over that gate to get out. I remained at home, in fear, until I had a release date that my then-husband determined. The security cameras were strategically placed around that gate to allow him to keep an eye on my comings and goings, recording it on six small television screens within the home and backed up on the Smart House computer system.  

There were years of physical, psychological, emotional, and financial brutality. I would be locked in a bathroom, locked in a closet — a prisoner in my own home — all to disarm me, to break me.

But here I am, despite it all. My life turned out to be one of survival over adversity. It is not one of victimhood. 

Little by little, I mentioned what was going on to people, I started to read, and believe I deserved better.

You can be living in the dark hole of abuse – and not realize how bad it is until you start telling other people what is happening.

Exit Fear Obligation Guilt

The Effects of Coercive Control on Children

Here is a shout out to anyone married to a narcissist. 

They will not want you to leave them, not even when they have a backup plan waiting in the wings in the form of their new supply.

As much as they use isolation to control their victim, narcissists fear abandonment.

If you have children with a narcissist, be prepared for the brainwashing of those children. The narcissist’s lies will be spewed and repeated, eventually destroying the relationship between you and the very children you love so dearly.  

When a narcissist knows you are on to them, they will use whatever will hurt you the most to get you back in line.

You can become isolated from the children who were once your entire world – alienated.

During the last few years living under the same roof, my ex did all in his power to separate and isolate me from the children I cherished. He wanted me to be as alone as possible.

Total isolation.

Isolation in a COVID-19 World

That word again – isolation. It is a gate that separates you from your children and the world. 

Lately, I’ve gotten so tired of hearing people complain about not seeing their families, not seeing their friends, not going out to restaurants, or on vacations. I’ve become inundated with people whining about how they can’t hug their grandchildren or go on their beloved shopping sprees.

Of course, these times are a challenge. But honestly, I think I’ve lived through worse. I often thank my Higher Power that at this very moment, at this very time – I am not in isolation with the man I was once married to.  

During this harrowing time of health crisis in our world, I am not isolated as I was in my past. This time, my isolation means I choose to stay safe.

Follow Julie Levine

4000 Miles

Survivor Voices | Poetry | Narcissistic Abuse Rehab

Intoxicated by your love
Or what I thought
was your love
Reciprocated with my love
True, accepting, encouraging
My all-encompassing love

And it was amazing
Walking on air
All guns blazing
No need for sleep
Because you would keep
Me going
Just the thought of you was enough to sustain me
Just knowing I was yours
You were mine
No need to keep track of time

Then you changed
Or what you presented to me
Changed
Looking back there were red flags flying high
You were the victim, so meek & shy
How could he treat you like this?
I understand why you cried
You
So pretty, so innocent
For him to do all these things
Well, it was just a sin.

But then the mask did begin
to slowly slip
And words were exchanged
To me, just a blip
I want the best for you
For you to be happy
You told me
Yet when we came to it
And when I needed to see my kids
You punished me
Went silent on me
Cold & distant
You imprisoned me
But I tried to reassure you
To constantly reassure you
You told me you broke up with me in your mind
Without even giving me any time

Your energy changed
Never the happy, loving woman
Was I to see again
As you started to harvest your crops & grain
Of seeds sown during our relationship
You never stopped

Our routine changed
And distance grew I was never enough
Deep down I knew
You would never talk
Engage or discuss
Anything important relating to us

You never wanted to accept
Your failings, your feelings
Of inadequacy, inept
So you breadcrumbed me along
This whole time
Dancing to your song
Planning your discard
No matter how hard I would take it
You knew I’d be devastated.

Because I gave you everything
I defended you to my family
To my children
To all
I would stand up
to every wrong word
For which I would ultimately fall
You manipulated
And gaslighted me
And when I asked
You said it was me

But I ignored the red flags
lying about messaging guys
On Twitter, on Facebook
I didn’t even have to look
Again
I didn’t want to look
You played me for a fool
And I naively fell for you
And that makes me angry
Angry and sad
Disappointed and mad
At myself
Not at you

You wasted my time
you took it away
With each passing day
You drained me
You hurt me
And then
faster than light
You desert me
Shame on you
Shame on you
Goddamn shame on you

But I know your time will come
You can hide
You can run
From the twisted lies
That you tell yourself
But you can’t hide from the Universe
Who knows who you are
And you cant hide from God
Who sees you as you are

Inside your heart
Unlike mine, full of passion & fervour
Yours empty & cruel
The truth’s in the mirror
Because the mirror doesnt lie
And like a true coward
You couldnt look me in the eye

Your eyes they betray you
They slice & they slay you
For they scream the lies
You try to hide
But it doesnt matter
Because I knew
I could read you
I could tell you
What you were hiding

And when I did
then your rage came fighting
But it only masked
And confirmed
The reasons for your deception
Which now lie in wait
For another poor soul’s devastation
As you hunt and you weed
To get the supply for your need

So now I have comfort
I have freedom in forgiveness
In knowing my heart is good
I know my heart is a loving heart
Deserving of more than what you did to me
But with yours
With yours?
You can never love
You will never know true love
God help you
God bless you
I forgive you

Honoring Men’s Mental Health

Men's Mental Health | Narcissistic Abuse Rehab

Our theme for the month of November is Men’s Mental Health and Suicide Awareness. Narcissistic Abuse Rehab will be using our platform to raise awareness on these critical issues.

Men often neglect their mental health

Social pressure on men and boys to conform to traditional gender roles can place a heavy burden on men’s mental health. Physical strength, stoicism, dominance and controlling behaviors are rewarded. However, they can also have serious consequences for the wellbeing of men and boys. 

Time and time again men and boys are often punished for showing emotion which can cause some to emotionally shut down. Because of this, it can be difficult for men and boys to recognize when they are in emotional distress. Ultimately, many men and boys don’t seek support until their problems have become a crisis. Many men and boys neglect their mental health.

Recognizing male survivors of domestic abuse

In cases of domestic abuse, men and boys are often unable to conceive of themselves as victims due to stereotypes of abusers being male and victims being female. The reality is that current research shows that 1 in 7 survivors of domestic abuse is male

Men and boys are less likely to seek support when they are experiencing domestic abuse, including narcissistic abuse by a family member, peer or employer.

4 of 5 suicides are men and boys

A staggering 4 out of 5 suicides are men and boys who take their lives, mainly due to relationship problems. According to the Office for National Statistics suicide is the biggest killer of men and boys under 45 years old in the U.K. For men over 45, suicide is second only to drug overdoses as the top killer.

Men and boys are facing a mental health crisis. This is why it’s critical to spread awareness about men’s mental health issues and options.

Our goal this month is to highlight some of the issues that are causing mental distress in men and boys and where they can turn for support in order to restore their sense of wellbeing.