Tag Archives: emotional abuse

A Comparison Between Emotional Abuse and Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”

The tone of public discourse about politics in our country today alarms a lot of people of different political persuasions. Events in my recent personal history have caused me to educate myself about emotional abuse tactics that others have used against me. I’ve noticed that a lot of these tactics are prominent in social media and the “mainstream” media. It seems to permeate almost all pop culture, entertainment and “news” which is why I avoid most of it and have for many years. I thought it would be interesting to compare emotional abuse tactics that I have personally experienced with Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” and see if there is any overlap.

Here are links to the source documents I used for my comparison:

And here are the results:

My Personal Experience Rules for Radicals
Intended target I was likely perceived as vulnerable because of grieving a deep personal loss and having suffered an recent and extreme career and financial downturn Low-income communities and “have nots”
Gaslighting Ex-boyfriend tried to convince me that I have a lot of illnesses and that my web site gave him a virus. Ex-boss told me I’m not smart enough to learn things in classes I wanted to take. “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.
Name-calling and put-downs Just in the last week I’ve had the following terms applied to me – “dumb”, “mouth-breathing”, “brain-dead”, “stupid”, “subhuman dwarf”. These were in one-on-one interactions where the people knew exactly who they were addressing.
My ex-boyfriend mocked my physical appearance and gloated and mocked me over signs that I was hurt by his actions.
“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also
works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.
Isolating you from your support networks My ex-boyfriend put down my family and sabotaged a reunion I had with some friends I hadn’t seen in years.
My ex-boss instructed co-workers not to help me with my projects.
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the
target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.
Projection – accusing you of doing things they are doing themselves My ex-boyfriend had a lot of debt and I have none but he accused me numerous times of being bad at handling money. “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”
They accuse you of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks When people taunt you and hurt you until you react, they can accuse you of all kinds of things, such as being neurotic and mentally ill. And that’s just the beginning! “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.”
They try to make you feel as though they are always right, and you are wrong Abusive people have criticized me for not having enough money then got angry at me for working too hard.
I’ve been put down for taking classes to help me with my career while simultaneously being put down by the same person for my career not being sufficiently successful. I’ve been put down for things that I think are common sense – getting exercise, wearing sunscreen, eating healthy food, losing weight, saving my retirement money for retirement, combining car trips to save on gas. An abusive ex-roommate used to put down my hair color (it was natural then!). There doesn’t seem to be any aspect of my life that is too trivial for someone else to take notice of and attack.
“Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance.

Results: there is not a one-to-one correspondence, but there is some overlap. I recommend you read the signs of emotional abuse very carefully – is someone in your personal life using those tactics against you? Is the media using those tactics against you? Are political movements using those tactics against you? I’m not pointing the finger at only one side here – I’ve been abused by people from different political points of view. My goal in writing this is to make you more aware of abuse in your life and inspire you to refuse to tolerate it – no matter who is doing it to you!

My New Planner Layout

Awhile ago I wrote about making a planner out of a sketchbook. This helps me keep track of my work because I can take notes and make sketches in the same book that is my planner. I try not to go anywhere without it! I have designed and purchased some rubber stamps to help me incorporate planner pages into my sketchbook.

Over the last several months I have been battling severe depression as the result of an abusive relationship. An ex-boyfriend gradually used emotional abuse techniques to persuade me to think there was something wrong with almost every part of what made me myself – my work, my hobbies, my goals in life, my family, my friends, my financial acuity, my physical appearance, my lifestyle, even how I packed for camping trips. Over time I internalized these criticisms and came to believe I wasn’t worth anything.

I’ve been fighting hard and using lots different tools to combat the depression. One reliable mood-lifter for me has been the acronym G.R.A.P.E.S. Here is what each letter stands for.

  • Being Gentle with yourself
  • Relaxation
  • Achievement
  • Pleasure
  • Exercise
  • Social

I read on a depression support web site that you should try to incorporate at least one activity each day that fits into each of the six letters in G.R.A.P.E.S. I’ve come a long way since I counted making it through a day of work in the Achievement category, but that’s how it was for quite awhile.

I’m doing much better now and surrounding myself with people who support me and seem to think I’m ok the way I am. I want to keep maintaining my progress so I have redesigned my planner page to remind me to schedule activities covered by G.R.A.P.E.S. I also included a line to check them off to track my progress.

Planner page with rubber stamps and letter stickers

On the page shown, the left column is for items that should be done some time during the week. The right column is for appointments and scheduling. I used letter stickers to spell “G.R.A.P.E.S.” at the top. The number stamps and ruled line stamp are by 7gypsies and the month of the year and day of the week stamps are by my own Carolyn’s Stamp Store.

Book Review: “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men”

why_does_he_do_thatThis was a really painful book for me to read and this is going to be a really painful review to write.

I once had an employer who fit the emotionally abusive criteria in this book. When he first hired me, he treated me very well. He praised my abilities often. He gave me credit for increased business. He sent me to training and paid for it. He gave me the second best office in the building after his. I thought I had the best boss ever – so much better than all the ones I’d had before. I worked really hard for this boss, and it was my pleasure. It’s nice to have my hard work acknowledged and appreciated!

After a few very happy years, I started noticing that he seemed to be undermining my projects and encouraging other employees to keep information from me that would help me do my job. It didn’t seem to matter if clients were being harmed in the process. No boss would do that, would he? I was just being paranoid, wasn’t I? He started discouraging me from learning new things. He started telling me I didn’t have the ability to learn what I wanted to learn. Then one day he insulted me in front of other employees, then tried to talk me into quitting. When I wouldn’t agree to quit without finding a new job first, he fired me. Then he asked if we could still be friends!

This behavior was unlike any I’d ever experienced before, and I found it baffling. I didn’t enjoy the process, but I got over it pretty quickly because I found a better paying job with an even better boss within 18 hours. I’d noticed this boss lying to other people in the past – I just need to be more skeptical about people who lie, right? If I ever meet someone like this again I’ll be able to recognize it, won’t I?

During the summer before last, I started dating a guy. I was really impressed by how he treated me. He opened doors for me. He made baked goods for me. He showed me lots of affection. He seemed interested in what I said and when I did nice things for him he expressed appreciation. It was wonderful to finally be in a relationship where I was treated well – so much better than all the others. I met his friends and family. Nobody warned me to watch out. For months he talked often of our future life together. We discussed where we’d like to have a wedding, what kind of reception, where we’d live, whether to get a trailer so we could haul two kayaks. I’d never caught him in a lie about his background or work or anything like that. I’d never seen him lie to anyone else – I thought he was an honest guy. When he said he loved me I believed him. I trusted him completely.

For several months he had also been suggesting there might be something wrong with me, like ADD or Asperger’s. I thought he was trying to help me be healthier but I realized later he didn’t want me healthy – his goal was to gradually break down my self confidence. Several times he expressed doubt about my ability to manage money even though I have no debt and he has quite a bit (an example of a manipulation called “Projecting”). I did notice he seemed gradually less interested in my activities and interests but he still feigned enough to satisfy me. One night this past summer he talked about where to go on a honeymoon and the very next day, he told me he’d been thinking about breaking up with me for months. Why? Because he was angry that I had a garden and rented an art studio, plus I didn’t make enough money to suit him. He tried to talk me into breaking up with him but when I suggested I go into counseling to try to fix what was wrong with me instead, and made an appointment, he cruelly dragged out the process for several days then dumped me, in order to cause maximum pain and humiliation. He said I was the best girlfriend he’d ever had, he had to dump me because of a “gut feeling”, he loved me and still wanted to be friends later! (Of course I realize now he meant none of that, it’s just an extra bit of cruelty typically added on to confuse the abused person and delay their recovery.)

Well, here I was taken in by the same kind of emotionally abusive person again, going through the exact same stages again, only this time it was much more hurtful because I had really loved him and was changing my plans for my life to include him in it permanently. I thought I was safe with him but he wanted to hurt me for having interests and accomplishments. What is wrong with me that I am vulnerable to this kind of abuse? How can I avoid getting sucked in again?

I read this book hoping to get answers, and I learned a lot. There are certain subtle warning signs that I will pay more attention to next time, although I’m not sure how early one can detect abuse if the person is really good at hiding it. My ex-boyfriend is a very good actor and he had apparently read up on what signs to try to hide – he seemed to cover his tracks ahead of time on so many of the characteristics I should have been looking for. According to the author they do try to hide these things until they are sure you really love them and will really be hurt by them. There are guidelines to tell whether an abuser is a good candidate for change and how to tell if they are changing. I realize I’m lucky I got dumped because the vast majority do not change. Some of them dump you as a punishment for not agreeing with them on everything. How do you know if you’ve been abused? This book will help you figure that out. Lying to someone for months is abuse, for example. There are chapters in the book that address when the relationship goes further than ours did – what to when you’re financially dependent, if there are kids, if you fear it’s not safe to get out, if it escalates to physical violence. It was helpful to read about some of the things I’ve been spared. My emotionally abusive boss had been taken into custody for physically assaulting his wife, I found out later from public records, so the pattern described in the book sure does fit. It’s reassuring to read that my abusers wanted me to think there is something wrong with me so I’d be easier to control but they may have attacked me precisely because there is a lot RIGHT with me and it feeds their ego to hurt me because I am so accomplished. Their incomprehensible behavior now makes sense – making you feel great in the beginning is a tactic called “Love Bombing”. It was painful to realize that the man I had been in love with was not a real person but a persona calculated to best manipulate me – this is called “Mirroring”. Trying to confuse you with lies or make you doubt yourself by suggesting something is wrong with you is called “Gaslighting”. Learn about lots more tactics in here.

This book was hard for me to read and digest, but there are things in here that everyone needs to know. I felt better just reading the reviews so I knew this would be a good book for me to read. Abuse isn’t just a problem that makes women suffer – my male co-worker was a victim of a brutal crime last week. What is the difference between violent crime and abuse? Both involve someone thinking that they are entitled to cause others’ suffering to meet their own selfish needs. Read this to arm yourself against abuse.

Here are some of my older book reviews.

For those recovering from emotional abuse, these links have helped me – they might help you too.

http://liveboldandbloom.com/11/relationships/signs-of-emotional-abuse – recognizing the signs takes awhile sometimes – it can creep up on you slowly and it can happen to anyone

https://www.psychopathfree.com/articles/10-simple-things-you-can-do-to-support-a-survivor-of-emotional-abuse.335/ – send this link to your friends and family

http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/index.html – emotion regulation

https://www.psychopathfree.com/articles/stages-of-grief-from-a-psychopathic-relationship.138/ – understanding the stages of grief might help you avoid beating yourself up for taking too long to get over it

Creative Arts Fellowship at DaySpring School of the Arts

I saw a notice for an event called Creative Arts Fellowship, an event for Christian artists to share art and faith. Both my faith and my art needed some help so I decided to attend and see what it was all about. Besides just being curious I was ready for some spiritual and emotional healing. When you’ve been emotionally abused by someone who puts themselves out there as a Christian, it can really shake your faith. I don’t want to let one person ruin how I feel about God any more than I want one person to make me look down on myself or lose faith in the possibility that some people are capable of being good to you.

We watched some short inspirational and musical videos. Some of the participants joined in with a form of dance. We heard some very good preaching which was on topics that I really needed to hear about. For someone like me used to a more formal style of worship it was refreshingly different. The content is from a non-denominational Christian perspective. We did some discussion and sharing, both about personal issues and about art issues. I believe the arts are inherently healing and sharing art in a kind and supportive atmosphere is even more so – the art world in general can be pretty unkind as any artist knows. All forms of art are encouraged here, participants shared visual arts, crafts and poetry. The art shared does not have to have specifically spiritual content.

I was treated with love, understanding and acceptance at the event and I made a lot of progress in how I feel about my faith and other human beings. We all need a reminder that there are people who want us to succeed and won’t put us down for trying to use our creative gifts. This past summer a person I loved tried to destroy my self confidence by attacking me for just that reason. He knew me well enough to know what would damage me the most. Right after that the studio I was renting closed (it was extra frustrating because my hard work over the last several months was just staring to pay off financially) and I didn’t need that when I was already feeling worthless and like a failure. When you’re in a state of heightened emotions it’s easy to see everything as being a personal attack on you even when it’s not. Sometimes it’s just life. I believe creativity comes from God. The God I believe in would not give me creative gifts if he didn’t want me to use them. I got some affirmation that it’s ok for me to use my gifts and some ideas for outlets where they might do the most good. As I get stronger I believe I will be led to opportunities to help others heal through art. Art therapy is not a new idea to me but art ministry in the form of this meeting kind of is – I want to learn more!

Future dates for Art Fellowships are on selected Monday evenings from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at DaySpring School of the Arts at 2500 Metro Blvd, Maryland Heights, MO 63043.
September 19, 2016
October 3, 2016
October 17, 2016
November 7, 2016
December 6, 2016

I’m planning on coming back for more fellowship nights! DaySpring School for the Arts also has classes for adults and children in the fields of Music, Theatre, Dance, Visual Art, Crafts and Design. They have space for rent for special events and parties. I didn’t see all of the facilities but what I saw of the building looks very modern and stylish. For more information go to: dayspringarts.org.

For those recovering from emotional abuse, these links have helped me – they might help you too.

http://liveboldandbloom.com/11/relationships/signs-of-emotional-abuse – recognizing the signs takes awhile sometimes – it can creep up on you slowly and it can happen to anyone

https://www.psychopathfree.com/articles/10-simple-things-you-can-do-to-support-a-survivor-of-emotional-abuse.335/ – send this link to your friends and family

http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/index.html – emotion regulation

https://www.psychopathfree.com/articles/stages-of-grief-from-a-psychopathic-relationship.138/ – understanding the stages of grief might help you avoid beating yourself up for taking too long to get over it

Book Review: “Surviving a Shark Attack (On Land) – Overcoming Betrayal and Dealing With Revenge” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Last year I was in the beginning stages of a relationship and my then boyfriend saw this book on my shelf. He expressed concern over why I had this particular book in my library – I explained that I had been a subscriber to Dr. Laura’s web site for a couple of years and each year her people send subscribers a free book or DVD. Now I have an idea why he was concerned about this book – he apparently knew he’d eventually be betraying me and feared when that happened I’d want to read this title and get back at him.

Well, he needn’t have worried about this book’s effect on his own well-being. Much of the book is dedicated to persuading people NOT to take revenge on those who have harmed them. Not because it’s not satisfying sometimes, not because the betrayers don’t deserve it, but because it usually does more harm to you than it does to them. This book also helps you realize the sad truth that some people don’t demonstrate any empathy for you because they don’t know what it’s like to have feelings. They can only imitate what other people feel and they can’t really be harmed by anything you do because they don’t care. They are very good at acting and fooling people because they’ve been doing it their whole lives. Even worse, they may get enjoyment from knowing how much they’ve upset you, so don’t be tempted to give them further entertainment by demonstrating your pain to them. I’ve often wished I didn’t have feelings, I’m sure life is easier if you can’t be hurt, but I guess God gave me feelings for a reason.

There is also a lot of reinforcement to help you avoid being taken in by the same person repeatedly and about appreciating the things you do have in your life that are good. That’s not very satisfying when you’re freshly betrayed and experiencing high emotions, but in the long run I believe you will be happier if you take this advice. It might also make you feel better to read anecdotes about people who have been hurt even worse than you have been, as hard as that might to imagine when you’re upset.

This book could possibly help you out even you don’t read it. Just put it in a prominent place in your home. If it makes anyone nervous, maybe that’s a sign you need to have your guard up around this person.

Here are some of my older book reviews.