Over lunch with my friend Sarah, she talked about her father. “He gets angry so easily,” she told me. “My sister and I try to keep him calm by biting our tongues and letting him have his way when we visit.” As I listened to Sarah describe her father’s behavior and the reactions of her and her sister, I realized he uses anger to manipulate and control them. I helped Sarah understand that their strategy to avoid his wrath was having the opposite effect. They were unintentionally enabling his emotionally abusive behavior.Read More
Blog: From Charm to Harm
I recently got an email from Clarissa (name changed to protect privacy), who told me she ended her relationship with a man when he became physically abusive. She said her new boyfriend is kind, caring and truly loves her.
She went on to say that his former girlfriend cheated on him, so she understands why he insists that she immediately answer his frequent daily phone calls and texts. She is concerned, however, that her lack of ability to respond promptly is a source of strain in their relationship.Read More
Behaviors that involve deception, denial, contradiction, and invalidation are difficult to spot. Abusers often disguise these methods as harmless or blame their victims.
As a psychotherapist who treats emotional abuse survivors, I realized the lack of language to identify emotional abuse tactics and their intended effects creates a barrier to protection and healing.Read More
Controlling people often disguise their abusive behavior as harmless and blame their partners for the strife in their relationship. As a result, their partners struggle to determine whether or not the treatment is part of a normal relationship. They are conflicted about who is at fault.Read More
You and your new man are in a cozy corner at a trendy restaurant enjoying candlelight and conversation. You’ve been spending a lot of time together and you think he may be the one. The server appears and places your entrées on the table. “This isn’t what I ordered!” he barks to the server. “Do you have a problem understanding English?” His outburst snaps you out of a dreamy trance. Hostility over a minor incident is a dramatic departure from the kind and caring man you were getting to know.Read More