Friday, May 30, 2014

Behind Abusive Mentality (Part 6): Abusers and Allies

Excerpts taken from Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft.
Besides, he feels that he deserves allies, because he considers himself the victim. 
You may wonder why, if abusive men feel so justified in their actions, they distort their stories so much when seeking support. First, an abuser doesn’t want to have to explain his worst behaviors—his outright cruelty, for example, or his violence—to people who might find those acts distasteful, and he may not feel confident that his justifications will be accepted. Second, he may carry some guilt or shame about his worst acts, as most abusers do; his desire to escape those feelings is part of why he looks for validation from other people, which relieves any nagging selfdoubt. He considers his guilt feelings a weakness to be overcome. And, last, he may lie because he has convinced himself of his own distortions.
But whether or not he is telling the truth is almost beside the point; he is playing to the societal value, still widely held, that a man’s abuse toward a woman is significantly less serious if she has behaved rudely herself. 
What her family and friends may not know is that when an abused woman refuses to “look at her part” in the abuse, she has actually taken a powerful step out of self-blame and toward emotional recovery. She doesn’t have any responsibility for his actions. Anyone who tries to get her to share responsibility is adopting the abuser’s perspective.
Despite the challenges, many, many friends and relatives of abused women stay by them. Their presence is critical, for it is the level of loyalty, respect, patience, and support that an abused woman receives from her own friends and family that largely determines her ability to recover from abuse and stay free.
I’ve had couples counselors say to me, for example: “He just isn’t the type to be abusive; he’s so pleasant and insightful, and she’s so angry.” Women speak to me with shocked voices of betrayal as they tell me how their couples therapist, or the abuser’s individual therapist, or a therapist for one of their children, has become a vocal advocate for him and a harsh and superior critic of her.
It is not possible to be truly balanced in one’s views of an abuser and an abused woman. As Dr. Judith Herman explains eloquently in her masterwork Trauma and Recovery, “neutrality” actually serves the interests of the perpetrator much more than those of the victim and so is not neutral. Although an abuser prefers to have you wholeheartedly on his side, he will settle contentedly for your decision to take a middle stance. To him, that means you see the couple’s problems as partly her fault and partly his fault,
which means it isn’t abuse.
I was speaking with a person one day who was describing the abusive relationship of a man and woman, both of whom were friends of hers. “They each want me to side with them,” she explained to me, “but I refuse to take sides. They have to work out their own dynamics. I have let both of them know that I’m there for them. If I openly supported her, he would just dig his heels in harder.” She added, “People need to avoid the temptation to choose up teams” in a tone that indicated that she considered herself to be of superior maturity because of her neutrality.
In reality, to remain neutral is to collude with the abusive man, whether or not that is your goal. If you are aware of chronic or severe mistreatment and do not speak out against it, your silence communicates implicitly that you see nothing unacceptable taking place. Abusers interpret silence as approval, or at least as forgiveness. To abused women, meanwhile, the silence means that no one will help—just what her partner wants her to believe. Anyone who chooses to quietly look the other way therefore unwittingly becomes the abuser’s ally.
Breaking the silence does not necessarily mean criticizing or confronting the abuser regarding his behavior. It certainly doesn’t mean going to him with anything you have learned from her, because the abuser will retaliate against her for talking about his behavior to other people. It does mean telling the abused woman privately that you don’t like the way he is treating her and that she doesn’t deserve it, no matter what she has done.
Colluding with abuse abandons the abused woman and her children, and ultimately abandons the abuser as well, since it keeps him from ever dealing with his problem. If we can erode the ability of abusers to gain allies, they will stand alone, and alone they are easier to stop.
It often falls to the abused woman herself, unfortunately, to try to educate the people around her whose help and support she needs, so that they will understand the dynamics of abuse and stop supporting the abusive man. Much of why an abuser is so able to recruit allies, besides his own manipulativeness and charm, is his skill in playing on people’s ignorance and misconceptions and often on their negative attitudes toward women. As difficult as it is to take on, you will often find yourself having to be your own best advocate, arguing forcefully against the range of ways in which your society’s values may buy into the abusive man’s outlook, in order to gain the kind of strong backing that you deserve from all those around you.
Abusers and the Legal System
Abusers have also learned to rush to the court for restraining orders before their partners get a chance to do so and sometimes scoop up custody of their children in the process. It would be difficult to find anyone more self-satisfied than the man who repeatedly assaults his partner verbally or physically and then has the pleasure of handing her a court order that bars her from the residence. And of course the shock to the woman of discovering that the court has kicked her when she was already down can propel her several more yards in the direction of resignation and bitterness. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Behind Abusive Mentality (Part 5): Types of Abusers

Excerpts taken from Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft. Only the most relevant types: Mr. Right and The Water Torturer.

Types of Abusers
Besides knowing all about the world, Mr. Right is also an expert on your life and how you should live it. He has the answers to your conflicts at work, how you should spend your time, and how you should raise your children. 
The central attitudes driving Mr. Right are: 
• You should be in awe of my intelligence and should look up to me intellectually. I know better than you do, even about what's good for you.
• Your opinions aren't worth listening to carefully or taking seriously.
• The fact that you sometimes disagree with me shows how sloppy your thinking is.
• If you would just accept that I know what's right, our relationship would go much better. Your own life would go better, too.
The Water Torturer's style proves that anger doesn't cause abuse. He can assault his partner psychologically without even raising his voice. He tends to stay calm in arguments, using his own evenness as a weapon to push her over the edge. 
In an argument, she may end up yelling in frustration, leaving the room crying, or sinking into silence. The Water Torturer then says, See, you're the abusive one, not me. You're the one who's yelling and refusing to talk things out rationally. I wasn't even raising my voice. It's impossible to reason with you. 
The psychological effects of living with the Water Torturer can be severe. His tactics can be difficult to identify, so they sink in deeply. Women can find it difficult not to blame themselves for their reactions to what their partner does if they don't even know what to call it. When someone slaps you in the face, you know you've been slapped. But when a woman feels psychologically assaulted, with little idea why, after an argument with The Water Torturer, she may turn her frustration inward. How do you seek support from a friend, for example, when you don't know how to describe what is going wrong? 
The Water Torturer tends to genuinely believe that there is nothing unusual about his behavior. When his partner starts to confront him with his abusiveness—which she usually does sooner or later—he looks at her as if she were crazy and says, What the hell are you talking about? I've never done anything to you. Friends and relatives who have witnessed the couple's interactions may back him up. They shake their heads and say to each other, I don't know what goes on with her. She just explodes at him sometimes, and he's so low-key.
The Water Torturer is payback-oriented like most abusive men, but he may hide it better. His moves appear carefully thought out, and he rarely makes obvious mistakes—such as letting his abusiveness show in public—that could turn other people against him or get him in legal trouble. 
If you are involved with a Water Torturer, you may struggle for years trying to figure out what is happening. You may feel that you overreact to his behavior and that he isn't really so bad. But the effects of his control and contempt have crept up on you over the years. If you finally leave him, you may experience intense periods of delayed rage, as you become conscious of how quietly but deathly oppressive he was. 
The central attitudes driving the Water Torturer are: 
• You are crazy. You fly off the handle over nothing.
• I can easily convince other people that you're the one who is messed up.
• As long as I'm calm, you can't call anything I do abusive, no matter how cruel.
• I know exactly how to get under your skin.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Behind Abusive Mentality (Part 4): Realities of Abuse #6-10

Excerpts taken from Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft.
REALITY #6: He is manipulative.
There are some signs of manipulation by abusers that you can watch for:
  • Changing his moods abruptly and frequently, so that you find it difficult to tell who he is or how he feels, keeping you constantly off balance. His feelings toward you are especially changeable.
  • Denying the obvious about what he is doing or feeling. He’ll speak to you with his voice trembling with anger, or he’ll blame a difficulty on you, or he’ll sulk for two hours, and then deny it to your face. You know what he did—and so does he —but he refuses to admit it, which can drive you crazy with frustration. Then he may call you irrational for getting so upset by his denial.
  • Convincing you that what he wants you to do is what is best for you. This way the abuser can make his selfishness look like generosity, which is a neat trick. A long time may pass before you realize what his real motives were.
  • Getting you to feel sorry for him, so that you will be reluctant to push forward with your complaints about what he does.
  • Getting you to blame yourself, or blame other people, for what he does. Using confusion tactics in arguments, subtly or overtly changing the subject, insisting that you are thinking or feeling things that you aren’t, twisting your words, and many other tactics that serve as glue to pour into your brain. You may leave arguments with him feeling like you are losing your mind.
  • Lying or misleading you about his actions, his desires, or his reasons for doing certain things, in order to guide you into doing what he wants you to do. One of the most frequent complaints I get from abused women is that their partners lie repeatedly, a form of psychological abuse that in itself can be highly destructive over time.
  • Getting you and the people you care about turned against each other by betraying confidences, being rude to your friends, telling people lies about what you supposedly said about them, charming your friends and then telling them bad things about you, and many other divisive tactics.
When a woman gets called “bitch,” or gets shoved or slapped, she at least knows what her partner did to her. But after a manipulative interaction she may have little idea what went wrong; she just knows that she feels terrible, or crazy, and that somehow it seems to be her own fault. 
REALITY #7: He strives to have a good public image. 
If you are involved with an abusive man, you may spend a lot of your time trying to figure out what is wrong with you, rather than what is wrong with him. If he gets along well with other people and impresses them with his generosity, sense of humor, and friendliness, you may wind up wondering, “What is it about me that sets him off? Other people seem to think he’s great.”
They are drawn to power and control, and part of how they get it is by looking good in public. The abusive man’s charm makes his partner reluctant to reach out for support or assistance because she feels that people will find her revelations hard to believe or will blame her. If friends overhear him say something abusive, or police arrest him for an assault, his previous people-pleasing lays the groundwork to get him off the hook. The observers think, He’s such a nice guy, he’s just not the type to be abusive. She must have really hurt him.
The abuser’s nice-guy front helps him feel good about himself. My clients say to me, “I get along fine with everyone but her. You should ask around about what I’m like; you’ll see. I’m a calm, reasonable person. People can see that she’s the one who goes off.” Meanwhile, he uses the difficulties that she is having in her relationships with people—many of which may be caused by him—as further proof that she is the one with the problem.
Although these men usually keep their abusive side well hidden outside of the home, there is one situation in which it slips out: when someone confronts them about their abusiveness and sticks up for the abused woman, which happens to be my job. Suddenly, the attitudes and tactics they normally reserve for home come pouring out. The vast majority of women who say that they are being abused are telling the truth. I know this to be true because the abusers let their guard down with me, belying their denial. 
REALITY #8: He feels justified. 
They don’t mind glibly saying, “I know what I did was wrong,” but when I ask them to describe their verbal or physical assaults in detail, they leap back to justifying. 
Abusive men are masters of excuse making. In this respect they are like substance abusers, who believe that everyone and everything except them is responsible for their actions. When they aren’t blaming their partners, they blame stress, alcohol, their childhood, their children, their bosses, or their insecurities. More important, they feel entitled to make these excuses; when I point out that other men under the same pressures choose not to be abusive, they tend to become irate or contemptuous.
REALITY #9: Abusers deny and minimize their abuse.
If the man is abusive, of course he is going to deny it, partly to protect himself and partly because his perceptions are distorted. If he were ready to accept responsibility for his actions in relationships, he wouldn’t be abusive.
REALITY #10: Abusers are possessive.
Possessiveness is at the core of the abuser’s mindset, the spring from which all the other streams spout; on some level he feels that he owns you and therefore has the right to treat you as he sees fit.
In other words, abuse is a problem of values, not of psychology. When someone challenges an abuser’s attitudes and beliefs, he tends to reveal the contemptuous and insulting personality that normally stays hidden, reserved for private attacks on his partner. An abuser tries to keep everybody—his partner, his therapist, his friends and relatives—focused on how he feels, so that they won’t focus on how he thinks, perhaps because on some level he is aware that if you grasp the true nature of his problem, you will begin to escape his domination. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Context and The State of Things

Half my posts about abuse mentality are posted, and there's a few more over the next few days to go. A few things to keep in mind...

There's a lot of context surrounding recent events that is pretty important, and it's possible I'm seeing things or seeing a whole picture here that others cannot. There is no doubt in my mind that the way my friend treated me was controlling, manipulative and extremely damaging to me.

Where others may see someone who tried to help me, became overwhelmed, and then needed to push me away and 'cut me off', I see a person who tried to 'Fix' me (more as a means to feeling good about himself as opposed to good intentions) and when he came to realise there was no quick solution to my problems or wasn't getting he wanted out of helping me (or perhaps changed his mind for whatever reason), his attitude towards me changed overnight into one that was dismissive, selfish, and uncaring. It was a pattern of silent treatment, invalidation, and shutting down any conversation he didn't like (more on that here and here) whenever I objected to how he treated me, especially after I asked him to not do it (I rarely set hard boundaries, but this was one for me and always will be.. AND it's easy to avoid hitting it if you take my How To on super anxious people on this blog to heart.) He promised to my face multiple times he wouldn't (but left it open that he could do what he liked if he felt okay with his behaviour). People truly sorry for hurtful behaviour would never continue it, and this is even true of those who have a hard time not hurting people unintentionally sometimes, such as those on the Autistic spectrum. If you care about the person you're in conflict with, you at least try to compromise or behave somewhat differently. He never did.

As has been posted on the blog before, abusers create an alternate private reality of the state of the relationship, so once he decided I was too dependent and couldn't self-regulate things, that was that. He was right, there was no arguing against it, and the fact I tried made me in 'denial' and 'violently defensive'. The truth was that HE was no longer interested in giving me the support anymore, and decided to frame it as being my fault and my 'problems' as the cause, because obviously there could be nothing wrong with him, he was always only ever trying to do things in my best interest. Every time we argued or I confronted him, it turned into my fault, my problem, and I was just too broken to see the 'truth'. It was 100% one-sided. Any talk of his behaviour and emotions was turned around into how I affected him in a negative way.

Anyway, I've talked about much of this before. But one reason I saw through it in a relatively short time and put my foot down over and over (which always was met with some form of 'punishment' from him) was because I'd just been through seven years of this sort of hurtful behaviour from the husband. I'd just escaped a suffocating relationship and that was difficult as anything I've ever done. When the person who was giving me a helping hand to get off my feet came along and emotionally kicked the shit out of me while I was down, it is an unspeakable level of cruelty. I was just beginning to crawl my way out of the deep hole I found myself in last year, one that nearly killed me multiple times. To have someone then repeat the controlling, manipulative behaviours and do it with ZERO interest in how it affected me (the husband did at least care somewhat even if I think we were caught in a very unhealthy pattern)... yeah, well, there's a reason my rage was so intense.

Don't forget that this level of cruelty has only continued even since we broke off the friendship. Don't forget that he gave me a chance to submit to his demands and continue our friendship, and I was the one who said, ENOUGH. Yes, when I attempted to establish a civil level of communication because we have so many mutual friends and he responded by continuing to ignore I existed, I did respond angrily because it hurt like shit. I do not and have never wanted to re-establish communication and friendship with him. The idea that I have is just absurd to me. And if you think I ever, ever had any of the Power in our friendship, you are just fooling yourself. When I took out some of my anger on him more recently, it was just frustration at the fact he cares about how he's hurt me not at all and won't ever take responsibility that he has. I just was venting AT the object of my anger in the only way left to me since everything else was cut off.

He's pulled the wool over his eyes of his closest friends that I would not leave him alone, because none of them have seen the side of him that I have. Because he can't silence me about the truth, he's punishing me, even after I left the state to find some sort of peace of mind about everything. Because I have 'behaved badly' but he's been silent and calm, it is easy to turn the tables on me as the bad guy. He is manipulating EVERYONE in his life as much as he has me.

And I will not remain silent and I will not stop trying to educate everyone I know about who he is truly, because it is the only way I can regain control over my life and defy what he wants from me, which is to be silenced and to be intimidated by his dragging me into court with this AVO (an Australian restraining order). I'm going to fight it even though I have zero desire to have anything to do with him, because I will not let him have any say in my life any longer. He's poked me (subtly) on his public Twitter to try to enrage me further, but I won't submit to it. I know better now. I also know he is at least keeping up on mine somewhat, with stuff he's posted recently, which is really odd for someone SO desperate to have nothing to do with me. He thinks I'm a joke, he thinks I am nothing and that my pain is nothing, he thinks that he can get away with what's happened because a few close to him are indulging his delusions, he thinks he can continue to hurt me because it amuses him to do so.

I won't stop until he's proven wrong.

Behind Abusive Mentality (Part 3): Realities of Abuse #1-5

Excerpts taken from Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft.
REALITY #1: He is controlling.
Consider how challenging it is to negotiate or compromise with a man who operates on the following tenets (whether or not he ever says them aloud):
1. “An argument should only last as long as my patience does. Once I’ve had enough, the discussion is over and it’s time for you to shut up.”
2. “If the issue we’re struggling over is important to me, I should get what I want. If you don’t back off, you’re wronging me.”
3. “I know what is best for you and for our relationship. If you continue disagreeing with me after I’ve made it clear which path is the right one, you’re acting stupid.”
4. “If my control and authority seem to be slipping, I have the right to take steps to reestablish the rule of my will, including abuse if necessary.”
With him, the foregoing statements aren’t feelings; they are closely held convictions that he uses to guide his actions. 
THE ABUSIVE MAN CLAIMS that his control is in his partner’s best interest. Unfortunately, an abuser can sometimes succeed at convincing people that his partner is so irrational and out of control, that her judgment is so poor, that she has to be saved from herself. A large part of his abusiveness comes in the form of punishments used to retaliate against you for resisting his control.
REALITY #2: He feels entitled. 
Freedom from accountability means that the abusive man considers himself above criticism. If his partner attempts to raise her grievances, she is “nagging” or “provoking” him. He believes he should be permitted to ignore the damage his behavior is causing, and he may become retaliatory if anyone tries to get him to look at it. 
And he will keep feeling that you are controlling him, because he doesn’t believe that you should set any limits on his conduct or insist that he meet his responsibilities. 
When your anger does jump out of you—as will happen to any abused woman from time to time—he is likely to try to jam it back down your throat as quickly as he can. Then he uses your anger against you to prove what an irrational person you are. If you have space to feel and express your rage, you will be better able to hold on to your identity and to resist his suffocation of you. He tries to take your anger away in order to snuff out your capacity to resist his will.
REALITY #3: He twists things into their opposites.
The abuser’s highly entitled perceptual system causes him to mentally reverse aggression and self-defense. The lens of entitlement the abuser holds over his eye stands everything on its head, like the reflection in a spoon. 
REALITY #4: He disrespects his partner and considers himself superior to her. 
He often has difficulty conceiving of her as a human being. This tendency in abusers is known as objectification or depersonalization. By depersonalizing his partner, the abuser protects himself from the natural human emotions of guilt and empathy, so that he can sleep at night with a clear conscience. He distances himself so far from her humanity that her feelings no longer count, or simply cease to exist.
Objectification is a critical reason why an abuser tends to get worse over time. Abuse and respect are diametric opposites: You do not respect someone whom you abuse, and you do not abuse someone whom you respect.
REALITY #5: He confuses love and abuse.
Genuine love means respecting the humanity of the other person, wanting what is best for him or her, and supporting the other person’s self-esteem and independence. This kind of love is incompatible with abuse and coercion.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Behind Abusive Mentality (Part 2): Dispelling Myths

Excerpts taken from Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft.
One of the obstacles to recognizing chronic mistreatment in relationships is that most abusive men simply don’t seem like abusers. They have many good qualities, including times of kindness, warmth, and humor, especially in the early period of a relationship. An abuser’s friends may think the world of him. He may have a successful work life and have no problems with drugs or alcohol. He may simply not fit anyone’s image of a cruel or intimidating person. So when a woman feels her relationship spinning out of control, it is unlikely to occur to her that her partner is an abuser.
The symptoms of abuse are there, and the woman usually sees them: the escalating frequency of put-downs. Early generosity turning more and more to selfishness. Verbal explosions when he is irritated or when he doesn’t get his way. Her grievances constantly turned around on her, so that everything is her own fault. His growing attitude that he knows what is good for her better than she does. 
The abuser creates confusion because he has to. He can’t control and intimidate you, he can’t recruit people around him to take his side, he can’t keep escaping the consequences of his actions, unless he can throw everyone off the track. When the world catches on to the abuser, his power begins to melt away. Unmasking the abuser also does him a favor, because he will not confront—and overcome—his highly destructive problem as long as he can remain hidden. 
But it is virtually unheard of for an abusive man to make substantial and lasting changes in his pattern of abusiveness as a result of therapy. He may work through other emotional difficulties, he may gain insight into himself, but his behavior continues. In fact it typically gets worse, as he uses therapy to develop new excuses for his behavior, more sophisticated arguments to prove that his partner is mentally unstable, and more creative ways to make her feel responsible for his emotional distress.
An abusive man who is adept in the language of feelings can make his partner feel crazy by turning each argument into a therapy session in which he puts her reactions under a microscope and assigns himself the role of “helping” her. He may, for example, “explain” to her the emotional issues she needs to work through, or analyze her reasons for “mistakenly” believing that he is mistreating her. 
An abuser almost never does anything that he himself considers morally unacceptable. He may hide what he does because he thinks other people would disagree with it, but he feels justified inside. I can’t remember a client ever having said to me: “There’s no way I can defend what I did. It was just totally wrong.” He invariably has a reason that he considers good enough. In short, an abuser’s core problem is that he has a distorted sense of right and wrong. 
In other words, the abuser’s problem lies above all in his belief that controlling or abusing his female partner is justifiable.
An abusive man is not unable to resolve conflicts nonabusively; he is unwilling to do so. The skill deficits of abusers have been the subject of a number of research studies, and the results lead to the following conclusion: Abusers have normal abilities in conflict resolution, communication, and assertiveness when they choose to use them.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Behind Abusive Mentality (Part 1): When is it Abuse?

A friend linked me to this book called, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. It's got some really great and helpful info, even if it's kind of hard to get through at times (triggers ahoy). I just wanted to post up some excerpts that I found both quite interesting and useful for my circumstances. There's quite a bit of info, so I'll make it a mini-series of posts. (Bold and Italics are mostly mine.)
In fact, his language tends to be of mutuality during the dating period- I want to be with there for you, etc. He may truly believe his own promises, because he wants to see himself as a generous and thoughtful partner, one who does not use or disrespect women. Later, when he begins to control the woman and take advantage of her, he will find ways to convince himself that it's not happening or that it's her fault. Abuse is not his goal, but control is, and he finds himself using abuse to gain the control he feels he has a right to. 
An Abuser is a human being, not an evil monster, but he has a profoundly complex and destructive problem that should not be underestimated. The common view of abusive men as evil, calculating brutes can make it difficult for a woman to recognize her partner's problems. She tends to think: My partner really cares about me and has a good side to him. He has feelings, he's not a sadist. He couldn't be an abuser. She doesn't realize he can have all these positive qualities and still be an abuser. 
An abuser's behavior is primarily conscious- he acts deliberately rather than by accident or by losing control of himself- but the underlying thinking that drives his behavior is largely not conscious. 
When Is It Abuse?
There is a difference between having a bad day and being a jerk and a pattern that adds up to something more serious. Behaviors such as name calling, interrupting and acting selfish and insensitive are hurtful and worthy of criticism but they aren't all abuse, except when they are part of a pattern of abuse. Abuse is about power, it means that a person is taking advantage of a power imbalance to exploit or control someone else.
The lines where subtler kinds of mistreatment end and abuse begins include the following actions [My Note: not a comprehensive list from the book]: 
He retaliates against you for complaining about his behavior- repeating behaviors he knows you dislike, switching into the role of the victim, ridiculing you for complaining of mistreatment. He doesn't believe that you have the right to defy him. 
He tells you that your objections to his mistreatment are your own problem- says you are too sensitive, you think everyone is abusing you, you're angry because you are not getting your own way. He is trying to persuade you that you have unreasonable expectations of his behavior, that you are actually reacting to something else and that you are using your complaints against him. These tactics are to discredit your complaints of mistreatment, which is abusive. His core attitude is "you have no right to object to how I treat you". 
It's never the right time, or the right way, to bring things up- Initial defensiveness is comon even in nonabusive people. With an abuser however, even time after an argument to cool off doesn't help. In fact, the time between arguments may be used to build a case against you.
Justifies hurtful or frightening acts or says you "made him do it"- He may tell you he can yell because you're not listening to him or says he will stop one form of abuse if you stop doing something that bothers him, which often will be something you have every right to do.
Control Tactics in Arguments
Distorting what happened in an earlier interaction
Accusing you of doing what he does, or thinking the way he thinks
Using a tone of absolute authority
Not listening, refusing to respond
Laughing out loud at your opinion or perspective
Turning your grievances around to use against you
Changing the subject to his grievances
Criticism that is harsh, undeserved or frequent
Provoking guilt
Playing the victim

Smirking, rolling his eyes, contemptuous facial expressions
Yelling, out-shouting
Name calling, insults, put downs
Walking out
Towering over you
Walking towards you in an intimidating way
Blocking a doorway
Physical intimidation, such as getting too close when angry
Threatening to leave or harm you 

Friday, May 23, 2014

How to Help

What TO Do:
  • Listen to what she has to say.
  • Believe what she tells you. It will have taken a lot for her to talk to you. People are much more likely to cover up or downplay the abuse, rather than to make it up or exaggerate. You might find it hard to imagine someone you know could behave abusively. But the person who is abusive will probably show you a very different side to the side the victim sees.
  • Take the abuse seriously. Abuse can be damaging both physically and emotionally. Don’t underestimate the danger she may be in.
  • Help her to recognise the abuse and understand how it may be affecting her or her children.
  • Tell her you think she has been brave in being able to talk about the abuse, and in being able to keep going despite the abuse.
  • Help to build her confidence in herself.
  • Help her to understand that the abuse is not her fault and that no-one deserves to be abused, no matter what they do. Let her know you think that the way her partner is treating her is wrong. For example, ‘No-one, not even your husband, has the right to mistreat you’
  • Help her to protect herself. You could say ‘I’m afraid of what he could do to you or the children‘ or ‘I’m worried that it will get worse’ . Talk to her about how she thinks she could protect herself. See the section ‘Helping to increase her safety’ (see below).
  • Help her to think about what she can do and see how you can help her to achieve it.
  • Offer practical assistance like minding the children for a while, cooking a meal for her, offering a safe place to stay, transport or to accompany her to court, etc.
  • Respect her right to make her own decisions, even if you don’t agree with them. Respect her cultural or religious values and beliefs.
  • Maintain some level of regular contact with her. Having an opportunity to talk regularly to a supportive friend or relative can be very important.
  • Find out about Intervention Orders (Victorian name for a court protection order – in NSW these are called ‘Apprehended Violence Orders’, and in other states they are ‘Protection’, ‘Restraining’ or ‘Domestic Violence’ Orders) and other legal options available and pass this information on to her if she wants it.
  • Tell her about the services available. Remind her that if she calls a service, she can just get support and information, they won’t pressure her to leave if she doesn’t want to.
  • Keep supporting her after she has left the relationship. The period of separation could be a dangerous time for her, as the abuse may increase. She may need practical support and encouragement to help her establish a new life and recover from the abuse. She could also seek counselling or join a support group.
What NOT to Do:
  • Don’t blame her for the abuse or ask questions like ‘what did you do for him to treat you like that?’ or ‘why do you put up with it?’, or ‘how can you still be in love with him?’ These questions suggest that it is somehow her fault.
  • Don’t keep trying to work out the ‘reasons’ for the abuse. Concentrate on supporting the person who is being abused.
  • Don’t be critical if she says she still loves her partner, or if she leaves but then returns to the relationship. Leaving an abusive partner takes time, and your support is really important.
  • Don’t criticise her partner. Criticise the abusive behaviour and let her know that no-one has the right to abuse her (for example, say ‘your partner shouldn’t treat you like that’). Criticism of her partner is only likely to make her want to defend him or her.
  • Don’t give advice, or tell her what you would do. This will only reduce her confidence to make her own decisions. Listen to her and give her information, not advice.
  • Don’t pressure her to leave or try to make decisions on her behalf. Focus on listening and supporting her to make her own decisions. She knows her own situation best.
Maybe this will guide those of you who may want to provide some support and are unsure what to say or do. Obviously not everything applies to me, but I cut and paste the lists cause you never know when it might help.

And I will be absolutely clear that you don't have to 'take sides' to provide support but I will prefer silence on the matter over disagreement. I've burnt all the bridges that need burning, I hope. I didn't intend things to be as divisive as they have been but at the same time I'm still coping with a lot of really scary, complex stuff going on in my head, and I have been panicky, anxious, terrified no one believes me, confused if I should believe myself, angry at me, at him, at everyone, at no one, okay one minute and utterly depressed the next, up down round and round and round. Yes, it's a mess up there and my tolerance levels for anyone who thinks his behaviour has been remotely okay or the picture he's painted of me is slightly true is non-existent. All the rationalisations, excuses, benefit of the doubt, seeing his side of things, etc. I've already done over and over again. To get him OUT of my brain, I need to cut out anything and everything to do with him that puts me back into a terrible mindset, people included.

You don't have to hate him, think he's a monster, or stop being his friend. I would never ask that of anyone. But there is an extent where I DO need it to be me or him of those in my life, because I want him OUT.

Yes, I'm still processing, and yesterday's mindfuck hasn't helped. But I hope to put it to rest as soon as I'm able. I am on my timetable and doing what I need for me. I will definitely get there, and I appreciate that a lot of you only want what is best for me.. trust me, I'm super grateful... but it will be in my own time. <3

Thursday, May 22, 2014

If You Truly Care About Me, STOP Blaming Me (Or Excusing the Abuser)

Abuse is a scary, strong word. A lot of people have trouble accepting it of someone they like, care about, generally respect, etc. Abusers are often charismatic, engaging, and well-liked, and hide their abusive nature extremely well except to those they are abusing. The thing is that abuse comes in many forms and falls on a spectrum of behaviour. Even if the person doing the accusing doesn't show bruises and scars, even if they seem generally 'okay', you SHOULD take their accusation of abuse seriously. Psychological abuse is subtle, difficult to prove and easy to rationalise and minimise, and can be extremely devastating with very few outward signs. Even if the term 'abuse' is too strong and upsetting to even contemplate of someone you know, if someone accuses them of any level of controlling, manipulative behaviour, even if you can find legitimate and 'reasonable' excuses for that behaviour, DO NOT underestimate the effect it has on the victim. Call it whatever makes you comfortable, but never brush it over as not serious, as you will only contribute to the victim's harm.

Part of manipulation and control involves invalidating the victim's feelings, confusing them, and turning the tables so they take the blame onto themselves instead. This is called gaslighting, and is a common and very subtle manipulation technique. If someone has realised this was happening to them and is brave enough to claim so, the LAST thing you want to do is doubt them, continue to invalidate their claims, stay 'neutral' as to the hurtful behaviour, or rationalise or make excuses for the other person in any way. Abusers get away with abuse because there is still a strong culture of victim-blaming and so many myths about abusive behaviour and how it manifests are prevalent. Your friend/relative/acquaintance/whatever could never be 'that guy', he is someone else from some other race/socio-economic status/country/area/etc. How could someone so caring and likeable ever treat someone else so cruelly?

Thing is that those are the strongest traits of an abusive personality type, because they are often very concerned with their image in the eyes of others and gaining allies to justify and continue their behaviours.

I couldn't even finish writing all this, it's so exhausting. Above are a lot of really great and not too long links that contain much of what I wanted to say, or close enough.

I'm so tired and exhausted making myself believed, defending my feelings/viewpoints/behaviours/etc. I am TIRED of fighting with people who even support me and do care that I'm hurting that this is more serious than 'acting out', who tell me that my anger is intense and difficult to respond to, that I should just move on and let it all go. Many are surprised at my actions, that I've been holding onto this for so long... well, there is a good reason why.

Important Things:

"When people take a neutral stand between you and your abusive partner, they are in effect supporting him and abandoning you, no matter how much they may claim otherwise."

I know this topic has been super divisive and confronting for many people I know, because they know both parties and feel that 'taking sides' would be wrong, no matter how much I am hurting and obviously and painfully so. Because of the silence from so many when I've spoken out, I've felt abandoned and ignored and like I AM unable to trust my own perceptions of things. You don't have to hate the person to hate the behaviour. You don't have to confront him (though he will never learn consequences otherwise), but acknowledge that my feelings are real, valid, and there is a reason I'm hurting. Or even say hi, I know you've been having a rough time.. how are you? Any sympathy or acknowledgement will help someone from falling further into misery and depression.

"... and because he does not take responsibility for how his actions affect you, he is also leaving wide open the possibility, which you cannot ignore, that whatever he did can and probably will happen again-- thus increasing your anxiety, fear and depression. A non-abusive partner who cares about your comfort and need to feel safe will listen to you and never ever do again what scared you NO MATTER HIS "PERSPECTIVE" OR WHAT HE "MEANT" TO DO. A non-abusive partner will not argue with you and defend himself: if you say something he did hurt or scared you, a non-abusive partner will take you seriously and agree to immediately stop doing what threatens you, period. ONLY AN ABUSER WILL JUSTIFY OR DEFEND HIS "RIGHT" TO CONTINUE THREATENING YOU."

I asked many times for the person in question to stop certain behaviours that were hurtful, triggering, and painful for me and asked for easy common courtesy to negate my negative emotions, such as upfront honesty and simple, basic explanations. He never did, and always justified his actions as necessary for his health and so he never felt responsible for causing me pain. 
So whilst I accept that non-communication might be triggering for you, I do not feel responsible for being the trigger. Nor, given the context, do I think it's fair of you to try to tell me I'm responsible for.
And that further discussion isn't really necessary because we've already discussed non-communication and I'll tell you if I'm about to intentionally not talk or address something for a period. But that even if I don't, if I'm acting in a way that I'm comfortable for myself that it's not something I will take responsibility for.
Exact words. He never warned me, as promised. Never. My feelings, emotions, reactions were NEVER important to him one tiny little bit, even though many of his controlling actions were 'for my own good' (another classic abuser mentality trait).

"Deep emotional distance is often an indicator that there is no turning back in a relationship, that on an unconscious level your partner has already created an alternate private reality. Once this has happened, they also stop consulting you about creating a joint reality that serves both of your needs. The recognition of an emotional separation is often very painful and is frequently accompanied by feelings of shock that are similar to those people feel when they are notified of a death. “Suddenly, he wasn’t there anymore.” There’s a feeling of loss. It’s as if someone with whom you had dreamed your whole future has, without your quite knowing it, been taken away."

This is from the withholding link above, and is one of the most important to me, because this by far was the technique he used to control me. He went from amazing, supportive, and understanding friend to distant, controlling abuser in a day. It was shocking and traumatic how quickly the dynamic between us changed and I was lost, confused and unable to keep up. He used my vulnerability to silence and non-communication (triggering to me because of my strong social anxiety) as a weapon, withholding explanations, communication, his presence. He'd cut me off, never discuss things, refuse to listen and ACTIVELY ignore me if I stood up against him in anger. His reality now was the only one we were operating under and mine was a creation of my anxiety and mental illness and turned into manipulating me to take all the blame for our problems and to apologise, state I would change, beg for his forgiveness and patience while I sorted myself out, etc.

I have every reason to believe he that even if it wasn't consciously, it was a very purposefully created situation. THIS:

was literally a day before these:

I RANG TO WAKE HIM UP BECAUSE HE SAID IT WOULD. And the next day, I couldn't get ahold of him and freaked out and he starts giving ME crap about not assuming he doesn't care, etc. etc.

Also, there was a night I was feeling extremely unsafe and felt I might harm myself (intention to die, yes), and I messaged him about it. It goes as follows:

I messaged him half an hour after he said he was going to bed and wouldn't talk. I fully expected him to not see the message at all, because I was so used to his non-communication and ignoring me by that point. But later that night he called the cops on me and I spent a very, very long night in the ER. Perhaps he worried he pushed me too far finally, but he never rang me to see if I was okay before ringing the cops and he never even spoke to me during or barely even after the whole incident. It wasn't about caring, it was about not actually letting things go too far. It was all about everything still being in HIS control.

There's a lot more, but this is long enough.. and I figure I'll just be shouting to the wind once again.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Silent Abuse

Excerpts from this page:
The silent abuser is able to switch himself off emotionally to the pain and suffering he is causing his victim and will deny he is the problem and he may tell himself or others that he is the victim.
You stop being a victim when you become the abuser
The abuser is capable of closing down all reasonable sense of emotions and turn into a cold heart very fast as he withdraws into his own world without any care for his victims distress . The abuser will behave in society charming, calm, happy, he will be seen by others as a pillar of society, gentle natured, helpful, kind, caring and fool the outside world into thinking he is abused and his partner is the abuser. This is classic of a mental abuser. They will have their partner labelled a mental case whilst he plays the victim and saint and makes her the subject of of every ones rejection by labelling her with an unbalanced mind.
The true victim will be further rejected not only by her abuser but also by his friends, work colleagues, family and others he is likely to meet. The abuser needs to feel in control and he will seek constant approval from those around him and convince them that he’s the true victim. They will offer him advice and he will feed off their pity which will make him feel even more in control as he plays the victim.
The true victims may withdraw from all social activities, work, stop seeing family, they stop being fun, will see everything in a negative light, stop eating which is the start of dangerous health issues, cry alone, send text terror messages as a means to fight back which only gives the abuser more ammunition to abuse her with as he will use that as a further excuse to ignore and make her look bad in front of others. The abuser will happily share the text messages because he wants everyone to see him as the victim. The true victim will stop functioning on all levels as the mind games take over her life. She will find it hard to think of anything else but what is happening to her. The victim will fight with her own mind and struggle to work out if she is being abused or is she truly the problem. The victim may start behaving irrationally from the stress caused by the mental abuse.
Mental abuse is not normally seen by anyone on the outside looking in because they see the abuser as a strong, calm, caring and sincere person and will not be able to see the true character behind the person in front of them that they think they know so well.
Obviously not everything on the page applies, since it's mostly about romantic relationships, but THIS is what is happening to me. Every time I didn't conform to whatever it was that was 'expected' of me in the friendship,  he would pull away and ignore me. HE KNEW it was hurtful and HE STILL DOES. Because I'm acting 'irrational' (aka HURTING LIKE FUCK), I'm the one in the wrong and he's the one being treated unfairly. I was told by a friend he felt 'unsafe' that my 'obsession' was wrong and that I should leave him alone because he obviously blocked me 'for a reason'. Yeah, that reason is he couldn't control me, so now he is punishing me. He knows exactly well how much this has been destroying me. And I'm the crazy, fucked up one cause I refused to sit down, shut up, and TAKE THIS TREATMENT. Fuck. That.
Ignoring a partner may also be a sign of infidelity or a man who is not in control of his own emotions and shuts down. 
Like, I don't think he necessarily wants to re-enter some fucked up friendship scenario again. BUT I do think he couldn't accept the fact he was hurting me and causing me pain and probably just refuses to be responsible for his actions. So it's easier to shut down and make me out to be the problem and him the victim.

I know I'm not perfect, but I know fucking well when I'm being horribly mistreated by someone. I'm tired of people who know me and who I know care about me as friends thinking I'm just a crazy fuck up who can't handle life, that I'm just acting out cause I'm hurting. Well, yes, and also no... I'm hurting because SOMEONE IS DELIBERATELY HURTING ME. And getting away with it because a lot of our friends are probably validating him cutting me off, like he's some sort of fucking hero.

I am angry. I am hurting. I am isolated, and very few of the people who should give a shit are; I'm getting mostly ignored by everyone, cause it's really fucking terrible to face up to the fact that someone you otherwise like and care about as a friend is doing some really awful shit to someone else. But it's the truth, and I'm so tired of feeling this way.

I'm not saying people should stop being friends with him or 'take sides'. Just understand what is truly going on and don't be complicit in it. His words he used to tear me down are on this blog. Every time I was hurting or emotional, he shut down, shut me out, and invalidated everything I was feeling.. to the point he convinced ME that I was seriously fucked up and destroying our friendship, when it was him treating ME poorly. When I had finally had enough, he refused to speak to me or acknowledge I'm a person who even exists pretty much. It is a Really Really fucked up way to treat ANYone... and so easy to get away with when I have pretty terrible mental illness already, so label me as crazy and unstable and EVERYONE believes you.

I'm fleeing the state because being here on my own simply isn't safe for me anymore. Anyone who saw me after moving out on my own being generally happy and social and doing well to what I've become now should understand just how devastating this treatment has been for me. I can put up with a lot of shit from people, and often do, but this is ridiculous. There are friends and people in my life who do care and understand, and I'm so grateful for them all. You know who you are. Even just those who said hi or sent a silly note when I felt shit. I wouldn't still be coping at all without you all. I hope I can repay the kindness someday.

But for now I have to get away from everything and just recover from this madness, cause I can't do it on my own anymore.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Truth, Or How to Get Away With Victim-Blaming

I'm the first one to admit I do stupid things when I'm hurt and angry. Everyone copes with strong emotions differently, and coping hasn't been my strong point in the first place. I actually have felt pretty great the past couple days mostly, and that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I was directing my anger where it belonged.

The problem is that it's being used to paint me as crazy and unstable. I was making him feel 'unsafe'. HA. I haven't heard such manipulative BS in a long time. And I admit I have made it easier for him to play the victim when I'm the one hurting so badly, but that's because I'm a threat to him and his precious 'reputation'. Well, the truth is, anyway. I have twisted nothing, nor lied about anything, nor hidden any actions I'm responsible for, and yes, I have reacted badly to this situation as a whole. Everything I have posted of his words and mine haven't been altered except for names.

He acts as if I've been incessantly trying to contact him, which has only happened at all a bit recently, and that I have some unhealthy obsession. Yeah, no. I am HURTING and continue to do so because he thinks he can ignore me and I'm simply going to go away. Sorry, it doesn't work that way when people have the same friends. Mostly I have either a) reacted to him contacting me FIRST or b) participated in a public conversation online, which he took some sort of offense too (oh yeah, cause I called him out on some BS with another friend). When I tried to engage him civilly in response to the 'rules' he set out for me in his email about social gatherings, he ignored me and refused to acknowledge I existed even to say yes or no in response. I did react poorly to that because that shit is cruel and hurtful for no good reason. Honestly, I have no CLUE why he's decided I'm not a person at all unless he has to dictate some shit to me. He got angry, shut me out entirely, and refused to coexist at all in a peaceful manner. I can only guess that I was too much of a 'threat' to his social circle and so he decided to cut me off before that could happen. SURPRISE, that just makes things worse.

Anyway, yeah, sorry if I don't take all that super well. I got a bit tired of him refusing to face up to how he treated me, or acknowledge my existence at all. If he feels 'unsafe', it's because he feels that the truth of things is a threat to how people view him. Um, yeah.. duh. I got a bit tired of being the better person and him traipsing around as if he hadn't a care in the world. So I found ways to make it very clear how he's made me feel. I know it's petty. I needed to get a bit of petty out of my system. Seemed better than spending more time hiding in my room constantly crying.

It's so easy to gloss over the actions of someone with a mental illness as being unreasonable and insane. Just because I react strongly and I'm emotional, there's something wrong with me for being hurt and acting out of that hurt? Well, whatever makes him sleep better at night. The truth of the matter is here, in this post and the last one. I'm an imperfect being who doesn't always make the best choices in any given situation. Fine, I can live with that. The problem is that he will never admit the same is true of himself, and probably the worst punishment is simply that he DOES have to live with that.

Addendum: I'm pretty sure the complete non-communication and refusal to be civil IS just cruelty, as I've stated to him specifically it's a big trigger for me. Hence the reacting poorly every time, as well.

Addendum Addendum: Now he's posting some supposedly relevant stuff about male entitlement that is actually not relevant to our situation at all.. but relevant to the lies he's spinning about me. Nice. Way to be full of yourself, guy.

This is why... (In His Own Words) UPDATED

This is why everything is all stabby, hurty anger all over again. This is why I will not shut up and go away and pretend I'm coping.. because I'M NOT. I'm not coping, I'm not okay, and I'm tired of shouting into the ether. It's buried at the end of my last long post, so I'm reposting it here.

This is why I'm broken:

Speaking of Tumblr, I also saw this (bottom bit is my contribution):
emotional abuse is when someone does something to hurt you, and when you express your feelings, that you’re upset, they turn it around to be something you did to hurt them and they force you to apologize for it, and your feelings, like always, are rendered invalid and silenced, forever damaging the ability to trust others with your feelings because they always are used against you.
this is important because so many people don’t know this
Purposeful or not, having your feelings invalidated is really damaging. When I realised this was happening recently with a friend was when I knew I needed to GET OUT. Others aren’t always so fortunate to recognise it for what it is. Emotional abuse slides under the radar so easily.
This is basically why I’m having so much trouble ‘getting over it’ and ‘moving on’. Least helpful advice ever, btw. I’m hurting, just let me be hurt for a while. And if you really care, sit with me a bit so I don’t feel so alone in it. Otherwise, I’ll get there in my own time. <3
I wanted to elaborate a bit, because it sums up so well why this has been such a traumatic experience for me and what exactly about it was so damaging. I know I have brought all this up before, but I don't think I've put it into words nearly as well as above. This will be the last time I mention the entire mess (I hope) cause I am done done done done done. Basically the cycle was:
  1. I express hurt and anger.
  2. He tells me I'm being unreasonable, irrational, and emotional.
  3. He says he feels no guilt over his actions, and I'm being manipulative by saying things that imply he should feel responsible.
  4. He'd shut me down and refuse to talk until I found 'perspective' (i.e. agree with his point of view).
  5. AND if I argued something I previously admitted guilt for, he'd use my previous admission as proof it was my fault.
  6. I'd feel bad and convince myself it WAS my fault because of my emotions and I WAS being unreasonable since I did express my hurt and anger in a 'poor' way.
  7. Things would go well briefly until he hurt me once again in some way. Go back to 1.
After reading that description of emotional abuse, I went back through some of our old chats and emails and realised that was exactly it. Everything I ever tried to blame him for got turned around back onto me and was my fault in some way. Everything. And the fact he refused to talk anything through until I 'came around' just seals the deal, because no alternative view was acceptable other than his own.

Here are some of the last emails we exchanged before we stopped talking. His:
Look. You are going to calm down at some point, maybe vent your shit at someone or whatever. Then you are going to freak out because you will think you've just destroyed our friendship. It's a pattern. And I like to think I have a pretty damn high tolerance for that kind of thing. But you are walking on very thin ice, tracing the circumference of my no drama policy. 
So, in the event that you do at some point realise that you are being completely unreasonable and the above scenario transpires, I will say this: 
You are very dear to me and I value our friendship. However, I'm /not/ willing to deal with this amount of drama, from anyone. So if you do in fact want to maintain our friendship, this has to stop. 
No more expectations of how I should or shouldn't act, no more trying (intentionally or otherwise) to guilt trip me over how /you/ are feeling or into me spending time with you (I say trying because I /don't/ feel guilty in any way). No more emotional venty outbursts at me for what you perceive I've done wrong but inevitably, and usually after talking to someone like [REDACTED], realise that you were, in fact, being unreasonable. No more drama, period. 
If any of this continues after this particular incident, I intend on cutting communication with you for as long as it takes for you to fix your shit so we can go back to being friends without the drama. Hint: this will be measured in months, maybe even years, not days/weeks, to give you some perspective. 
I don't want to talk about this with you, it is not open for discussion. I want our friendship to work, but if time apart is needed then so be it. This is the last time I will deal with it. At a minimum, I don't want to talk to you at all until you've calmed down and got some perspective. Whether you can accept these terms will determine whether I will maintain non-communication beyond that. And if the scenario I've predicted here never comes to pass then feel free to ignore everything I've said because it will be irrelevant anyhow as we will no longer be speaking. 
I don't think I can be any clearer than that.
 My reply:
Don't worry. The cycle is broken. What failed me before was the strength to say that I don't need to put up with how you treat me, and the emotional strength to not let you twist your words into me guilting myself about my behaviour. I am not upset that you won't spend time with me. I neither expect it nor feel that you are obligated to see me. I'm not upset that you'd rather hang out with people other than me. And I have zero expectations from you except for those I have inferred from our conversations and your behaviour at any given time.

What I AM upset about: because I react emotionally, you disregard my feelings entirely as being valid and ignore them. You make assumptions and decisions about my capabilities to understand and cope with things if I express strong emotions, which are always incorrect. You refuse to openly and honestly admit to me just exactly where I stand with you and how you see our friendship functioning even though I've repeatedly asked for that honesty and check in to see where you're at with things, because your behaviour does not match your words. And, while I accept you make decisions based on your own health and well being, you refuse to accept or admit any consequences of these decisions.

I don't want the drama, EITHER. This is not at all how I want things to be with us. I am an extremely reasonable and emotionally mature person, but the other side has to believe that to be true of me TOO for it to happen. If I am hurt or upset, there is a reason and I am always happy to discuss whether or not those feelings are reasonable IF the person I'm discussing them with acknowledges that I am having them and shows some sort of sympathy that they exist and some sort of interest in understanding WHY, in addition to explaining their position as to why they feel that I shouldn't be reacting a certain way. Disregarding that my emotions exist entirely and invalidating them based on their existence is both painful and makes me (as you saw last night) even more angry. I in no way at all regret expressing my anger to you. In fact, I take back any previous regret about expressing how I feel at you, too. RationalMe agrees, you are a dick.

So here's the bottom line: it doesn't matter how emotional I act or over-react, my feelings are both valid and real and deserve to be addressed by someone who claims to care about me. Here is a hint for future dealings with someone who is upset: instead of nitpicking their words and ignoring that they have emotions (reasonable or unreasonable as they may be), acknowledge they are angry or upset, regret that they feel that way (whether you feel guilt or not), and then explain your position and why you have made your decision. After that point, a calmer discussion will proceed, not one in which the hurt person feels even worse.

So yes, I've done my venting. I've found my perspective. They all say I need you out of my life, at least for now. Possibly forever. Even [REDACTED]. You are right about her feelings about obligations but what I knew and you didn't was that she ALSO really hates people who back out of commitments and who mislead you about their priorities and where you stand with them overall.

Yeah, I let myself get into a cycle with you, because I'm a fucking idiot who tries to salvage broken things, even when they are bad for her. You'd think I'd have learned from [REDACTED], but no.

If and when you are ready to apologise and accept that you have made mistakes and would like to talk about them and how to resolve this, I will be here. Until then, our friendship is through.
Yes, the reply was after I'd calmed down some, but I don't read it with the 'augh, why did I do that' regret I get sometimes when I've been angry. But no wonder his behaviour was ringing all sorts of alarm bells at me once we got to that point. Anyway, you know his response? Two sentences: "Don't hold your breath. See ya."

This from someone I trusted implicitly and considered one of my closest friends ever. AND from someone who was very judgemental about the way the husband treated me in our marriage, and I'm STILL FRIENDS with the husband. He's lovely. He made mistakes, yeah, but he's also not a complete asshole?

Okay, I may have made myself angry all over again.. but ugh. Really, I'm tired of being walked all over again and again. No, I won't be so quick to trust ever again, but I also will be quicker to recognise toxic people who do not deserve a place in my life.

P.S. - This one's also great, from an earlier email of his. Note no specifics of my wrong behaviour and talk of my being in 'denial' so we couldn't discuss things properly before, either. Plus his twisting it so perfectly around to being my fault and not taking it 'personally'. Ugh. Asshole.

There really isn't much to say from my part that I haven't already communicated to you. The only problem I had that personally affected /me/ was the stress (in the context of already being stressed) that I was feeling because I felt like all my options regarding you, you're health, and our friendship, were in some way massively deficient. 

There really isn't anything deeper than that that I've left unsaid. 
You do have a problem with self-regulation, because you (self-admittedly) react in ways when anxiety/emotional brained that when you calm down you understand were not helpful/in your best interest, etc. And you do have a problem with dependence, which, other than being observable, you've said as much yourself when you've calmed down. This is not something that just came out on the night after Mardi Gras, though that was the point at which I realised it had reached a problematic level. These are not imaginary hurdles, regardless of how you are feeling right this moment.

Now, whilst I accept my part in not being vigilant enough in trying to help you, to not let it become a dependence thing, the communication was /impossible/ until after you spoke to [REDACTED] on Wednesday. Because you were both in denial about the problem and quite defensive/hostile about it. Evidenced by times since the day [REDACTED] came over last week or the week before when I /have/ talked to you about it.

So whilst I accept that non-communication might be triggering for you, I do not feel responsible for being the trigger. Nor, given the context, do I think it's fair of you to try to tell me I'm responsible for.

Now, if after calming down and maybe talking to [REDACTED] or [REDACTED] you realise that much of what you've just said was in no small way disturbing, I'm happy to ignore it. Either way I haven't taken it personally, or let it impact how I feel about you. 
So, I would still like to hang out tomorrow as planned, if that is something you are still interested in. However, until you get perspective on the situation from a third party I'm not going to discuss this further with you.  
Call me crazy, call me irrational, call me a bitch... maybe I'm all of these things and more. But I never deserved any of this. Lastly is the email he sent ages after we stopped talking as I was trying to move on and forget any of this happened. Context: I mentioned to a friend who invited us both to a potentially super small thing when it'd be the first time we'd see one another that I didn't want to make anything awkward for anyone and declined to go. I got this super hostile BS afterwards (mostly reasonable till the end.. which I'm pretty sure contains a veiled threat):
This will be short and functional. It is not an invitation to reopen dialogue.

Don't feel you need/want/whatever to not come to social things that I am at (e.g. seeing [REDACTED] on Sat [she mentioned it]). I certainly am not going to limit myself because of your presence. And I wouldn't want a situation arising in which people felt the need to invite one or the other but not both of us to something.

Regarding social environments, I have no intention of creating drama around other people (or at all). I would appreciate the same. I have no intention of initiating ongoing communication. However, in social situations, avoiding drama and not making things awkward for others is a much higher priority.

So you can expect zero to minimal communication from me. I will not talk to you or respond to you one on one. I will engage in group discussions which may involve addressing or responding to you within the confines of that discussion. I don't particularly care how you choose to respond in any of these scenarios, suffice to say that should your choices result in drama, I've made myself abundantly clear on my desire to avoid it.

Finally, I would appreciate you not breadcrumbing this whole situation to otherwise uninformed mutual 3rd parties. Should you choose to do so anyway, I will fill in the blanks for them. The catalyst for this point was saying to [REDACTED] "I don't think [JERKFACE] wants to see me" (her phrasing of your communication). If you choose not to come to a social event that's your business, but don't involve me in the expression of your decision.

Don't respond to this email. I won't read it.
That's basically his solution to everything. I don't get to have a say or an opinion or any sort of civil discussion about things. I have to behave the way he decides, and that's it. I have melted down a few times in public, I get that it isn't helpful or anything. But I WILL make him hear me. I will make him understand I'm a person, not a thing he gets to abuse then pretend doesn't exist anymore.

Or, at the very least, I want someone to care that I feel so destroyed inside because someone else was so cruel to me. :(

ADDENDUM: This is long but related, as I don't want you to feel I'm skewing things too much unfairly. Here is the email I sent that garnered his reply (the P.S. bit above):
Ok, so I can't sleep and I have been processing and thinking and soul searching and trying to understand what's been bothering me so much still and why I can't let myself rest and simply move forward from here. I've been feeling miserable and hurt and freaked out and regretful, and blaming myself over and over for breaking things between us because of my illness. I was writing out a lot of my thoughts and feels and I came to a very important realisation. At the risk of breaking things further, there is some shit I need to say. 
I don't even know how much you read or take in these emails, but this one is very important for you to understand. 
I am STILL pissed off. At you. I've spent a lot of time since that first night you avoided me being angry and hurt and in a lot of pain. We talked about it. I made myself very clear, and while I understand you didn't have the information beforehand, I hoped we could move on from there, never to worry about these things again. And yet it kept happening and kept getting worse as you felt the need to close yourself off from me and continually push me away (with good reason, of course). And I made a huge amount of mistakes and caused the problems to continue getting worse, but we are ignoring the most important point about all that. And that is that *I* was reacting to the amount of information *I* had at the time, which was PRETTY MUCH NONE about how you were feeling and being affected. You explained certain problematic behaviours and boundries and various things but it was all in the context of ME and what was good for ME and why these things needed to happen for MY HEALTH. All of which means very little without the other important half of context, which is how all these things affect YOU and YOUR HEALTH and why it's important for both of us and our entire friendship that I need to accept certain things. 
So, as the triggering behaviours continued from you, I could feel you pulling further and further away to shield yourself, but I never could understand WHY. In some ways, I still don't entirely. I just felt you shutting me out more and more and getting further and further away, because you continued to do all the things I told you were hard line boundaries for me (and why they are, too). I told you an easy way to avoid falling down that rabbit hole was simply to be open, upfront and honest about your thoughts and feelings. I tried to be very clear and assertive in ways I'm generally not, because I knew how dangerous it would be for me. You don't do shit to someone with BDD that triggers their worst impulses and self-destructive behaviour. Maybe I didn't explain it even as clearly as I hoped to, but I tried to make it obvious that down that path is a lot of self-destruction for me. I suppose I hoped that you'd ask if you were worried about things causing further problems. 
So anyway, as my mental health disintegrated, you continued to pull away because I continued reacting poorly and thus a violently unhealthy cycle spun out of control very quickly. I am not avoiding the blame for my part in this whole mess. I readily accept it, but I've beaten myself up enough over the past few days and even the past couple weeks as it all happened. I am tired of glossing over the things I really should be holding you accountable for, even if your intentions were in both our best interests and you weren't *trying* to continually cause me pain. Perhaps you are holding yourself accountable in some way, but not in ways communicated to me. And still I wonder if you have gotten the message that I *can* be reasonable and understanding and respect any and all boundaries you have.. so long as you tell me why, what you're thinking, how you're feeling in regards to us and everything else and properly communicate to me what is going on inside your head so I don't fall down the trap of letting my broken mind run away with my emotions and causing you unnecessary hurt and stress from my behaviours. I realised tonight that I cannot make my brain stop going into that horrible place entirely now that it's there, and certainly not for some time and without professional help. But that doesn't mean I have to shut all the terrible shit down inside me, either, when it takes very little on your part to avoid those specific triggers. 
I feel that I've certainly made myself clear by NOW. Perhaps the damage is done anyway, and it's too late to entirely fix everything between us. I don't know. I know the friendship is too important to both of us to let it go entirely. But despite your words, it's still broken. It's broken because I pushed you way too far once my brain got past the point of rational thinking. It's broken because you caused me more hurt and pain in the past couple weeks than even [THEHUSBAND] has in some time. It's broken because I still feel like you don't trust me enough to communicate openly so that I can understand where your head has been and still is at. It's broken because the trust I had in you is broken, and has been for a little while now. 
I feel that the night you stayed away after I called you for help was really the breaking point and everything's fallen into terrible chaos since then. I still feel hurt and betrayed from that night, and I still feel hurt and betrayed by a lot of stuff since then. I'm sure you still feel whatever it is you feel from all the stress I've caused you in return. 
We can be friends and hang out and have fun and laugh, and probably that will be mostly okay for a while... but it can't hide the cracks beneath the surface. I don't see us truly salvaging things until we rebuild the sort of trust and communication that existed long before this whole mess. It'll take time and a lot of hard work, but for me, it's worthwhile. I hope it is for you too. 
P.S. You have seen me at my absolute worst. If you can accept that that is as bad as it gets, and often it's much, much better when I'm not specifically triggered by stuff, then maybe we can get somewhere with all this after all. But until you are ready to let me in and afford me the same trust that I have been affording you, I'd rather we cancelled all our plans for later today. As always, I am continually learning I let myself put up with a lot more bullshit than I need to. Perhaps we could have avoided a lot of hurt if I realised it much sooner, so I'm sorry that I didn't. 
P.P.S. - you know what? I'm also still pissed you think I was replacing [THEHUSBAND] with you and can't self-regulate shit. What I said about wanting to be free from dependency is absolutely true. Except when all my panic instincts triggered that I'd lose you from my life entirely, I reacted stupidly and kept holding on tighter, which of course pushed you away. Everything you worried about stemmed pretty much entirely from the night you stayed away.
Yeah, actually that whole thing sums up the problems I had with his behaviour the entire time and he threw all of it back in my face and disregarded my feelings entirely. And said everything I wrote was 'disturbing'. Woo.