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.
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 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:
Dr. Brenda Wade
Dr. George Simon
Dr. Gary Sayler
Katherine Woodward Thomas
Dr. Marni Feueman
Dr. LeslieBeth Wish
Melanie Tonia Evans
Dr. Michael Kinsey
Dr. Ramani S. Durvasula
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.
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.
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.
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:
having anti-social personality disorder, and
being morally bankrupt.
Did I ever hear of those terms before court-ordered reports?
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.
How Coercive Control Destroys Support Systems
Gradually, friends left my life, my family became estranged, people I had known for years stopped contacting me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.