Passive Aggressive Behavior is a Form of Domestic Abuse

86530432-56a25de65f9b58b7d0c9610eWhat do Passive Aggressive behavior and domestic abuse have in common? When someone hits you or yells at you, you know that you’ve been abused. It is obvious and easily identified. Covert abuse is subtle and veiled or disguised by actions that appear to be normal, at times loving and caring. The passive aggressive person is a master at covert abuse and, as a result, can be considered an abuser.

Passive aggressive behavior stems from an inability to express anger in a healthy way.

A person’s feelings may be so repressed that they don’t even realize they are angry or feeling resentment. A passive aggressive can drive people around them crazy and seem sincerely dismayed when confronted with their behavior. Due to their own lack of insight into their feelings, the passive aggressive often feels that others misunderstand them or, are holding them to unreasonable standards if they are confronted about their behavior.

Common Passive Aggressive Behaviors

Ambiguity: I think of the proverb, “Actions speak louder than words” when it comes to the passive aggressive and how ambiguous they can be. They rarely mean what they say or say what they mean. The best judge of how a passive aggressive feels about an issue is how they act. Normally they don’t act until after they’ve caused some kind of stress by their ambiguous way of communicating.

Forgetfulness: The passive aggressive avoids responsibility by “forgetting.” How convenient is that? There is no easier way to punish someone than forgetting that lunch date or your birthday or, better yet, an anniversary.

Blaming: They are never responsible for their actions. If you aren’t to blame then it is something that happened at work, the traffic on the way home or the slow clerk at the convenience store. The passive aggressive has no faults, it is everyone around them who has faults and that person must be punished for those faults.

Lack of Anger: The passive aggressive may never express healthy anger. There are some who are happy with whatever you want. On the outside anyway! The passive aggressive person may have been taught, as a child, that anger is unacceptable. Hence they go through life stuffing their anger, being accommodating and then sticking it to you in an under-handed way.

Fear of Dependency: From Scott Wetlzer, author of Living With The Passive Aggressive Man. “Unsure of his autonomy and afraid of being alone, he fights his dependency needs, usually by trying to control you. He wants you to think he doesn’t depend on you, but he binds himself closer than he cares to admit. Relationships can become battle grounds, where he can only claim victory if he denies his need for your support.”

Fear of Intimacy: The passive aggressive often can’t trust. Because of this, they guard themselves against becoming intimately attached to someone. A passive aggressive will have sex with you but they rarely make love to you. If they feel themselves becoming attached, they may punish you by withholding sex.

Obstructionism: Do you want something from your passive aggressive spouse? If so, get ready to wait for it or maybe even never get it. It is important to them that you don’t get your way. They will act as if giving you what you want is important to them but, rarely will they follow through with the giving. It is very confusing to have someone appear to want to give to you but never follow through. You can begin to feel as if you are asking too much which is exactly what they want to you to feel.

Victimization: The passive aggressive feels they are treated unfairly. If you get upset because he or she is constantly late, they take offense because; in their mind, it was someone else’s fault that they were late. He/she is always the innocent victim of your unreasonable expectations, an over-bearing boss or that slow clerk at the convenience store.

Procrastination: The passive aggressive person believes that deadlines are for everyone but them. They do things on their own time schedule and be damned anyone who expects differently from them.

The Passive Aggressive and You

The passive aggressive needs to have a relationship with someone who can be the object of his or her hostility. They need someone whose expectations and demands they can resist. The passive aggressive is usually attracted to co-dependents, people with low self-esteem and those who find it easy to make excuses for other people’s bad behaviors.

The biggest frustration in being in a relationship with a passive aggressive is that they never follow through on agreements and promises. They will dodge responsibility for anything in the relationship while at the same time making it look as if they are pulling their own weight and are a very loving partner. The sad thing is, you can be made to believe that you are loved and adored by a person who is completely unable to form an emotional connection with anyone.

The passive aggressive ignores problems in the relationship, sees things through their own skewed sense of reality and if forced to deal with the problems will completely withdraw from the relationship and you. They will deny all evidence of wrongdoing, distort what you know to be real to fit their own agenda, minimize or lie so that their version of what is real seems more logical. This is why divorcing a passive aggressive can and often does lead to a high conflict situation with long-term negative consequences for all involved.

The passive aggressive will say one thing, do another, and then deny ever saying the first thing. They don’t communicate their needs and wishes in a clear manner, expecting their spouse to read their mind and meet their needs. After all, if their spouse truly loved them he/she would just naturally know what they needed or wanted. The passive aggressive withholds information about how he/she feels, their ego is fragile and can’t take the slightest criticism so why let you know what they are thinking or feeling?

God forbid they disclose that information and you criticize them.

Confronting the Passive Aggressive

Beware, if you confront the passive aggressive they will most likely sulk, give you the silent treatment or completely walk away leaving you standing there to deal with the problem alone.

There are two reasons for confronting the passive aggressive. One, if done correctly you may be able to help them gain insight into the negative consequences of their behaviors. Two, even if that doesn’t happen, it will at least give you the opportunity to talk to him/her in a frank way about how his/her behavior affects you. If nothing else you can get a few things “off your chest.”

Below are 8 constructive ways to confront someone with passive aggressive behavior

  • Make your feelings the subject of the conversation and not their bad behaviors. Use “I” statements and not “you” statements. More than likely you will get a more productive response from the passive aggressive spouse if you make the communication about the marriage and how you are feeling.
  • Don’t attack their character. You may feel angry and want to strike out but, doing so will only cause the passive aggressive to withdraw and refuse to engage in communication.
  • Make sure you have privacy. This is only common sense. Do not call out your passive aggressive spouse in front of others.

Shaming someone never gets positive results.

  • Confront them about one behavior at a time, don’t bring up everything at once. You may have a laundry list of grievances but that doesn’t mean you have to communicate the entire list in one sitting. Remember, the passive aggressive fears conflict so, take it one grievance at a time to help them feel comfortable.
  • If they need to retreat from the conversation allow them to do it with dignity. Tell them you understand their need to leave the conversation but, before they do you’d like to agree on another date and time to continue discussing the topic.
  • Have a time limit, confrontation should not stretch on indefinitely.
  • If they try to turn the table on you, do not defend your need to have an adult conversation about your feelings. Having dealt with the passive aggressive you know that one of their main tactics is to try and turn the tables. Be on the lookout for that to happen and instead of becoming defensive insist that they stay on topic.
  • Be sure they understand that you care about what happens to them, that you love them and that you are not trying to control them. You are only trying to get to the bottom of your disagreements and make the relationship better.

Nothing is more important than helping the passive aggressive to feel safe in engaging in what they will view as a conflict.

Inside the Passive Aggressive’s Head

The passive aggressive has a real desire to connect with you emotionally but their fear of such a connection causes them to be obstructive and engage in self-destructive habits. They will be covert in their actions and it will only move them further from their desired relationship with you.

The passive aggressive never looks internally and examines their role in a relationship problem. They have to externalize it and blame others for having shortcomings. To accept that they have flaws would be tantamount to emotional self-destruction. They live in denial of their self-destructive behaviors, the consequences of those behaviors and the choices they make that causes others so much pain.

The passive aggressive objectifies the object of their desire. You are to be used as a means to an end. Your only value is to feed the passive aggressive’s emotional needs. You are not seen as a person with feelings and needs but as an extension of them. They care for you the way they care for a favorite chair. You are there for their comfort and pleasure and are of use as long as you fill their needs.

The passive aggressive wants the attention and attachment that comes with loving someone but fear losing their independence and sense of self to their spouse. They want love and attention but avoid it out of fear of it destroying them. You have to be kept at arm’s length and if there is an emotional attachment it is tenuous at best.

The only hope for change in the way they deal with relationship issues is if they are able to acknowledge their shortcomings and contributions to the marital problems. Facing childhood wounds, looking internally instead of externally to find the cause of problems in their life will help them form deeper emotional attachments with a higher sense of emotional safety.

By Cathy Meyer

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10 Ways to Know You Are Being Gaslighted

You feel small, stifled and burdened by life events. Maybe you’re experiencing neurosis, hyper-sensitivity and alienation. Deep down you think you’re going insane. It’s possible that you’re not. Instead, you’ve been gaslighted.

Gaslighting is a method of manipulation, emotional abuse or bullying, often employed by sociopaths and narcissists. It involves making someone feel as if they no longer have their wits about them, as if their sanity has flown the coop. The term comes from the 1944 film “Gas Light,” in which a woman is manipulated by her husband into believing that she’s going crazy.

The gaslighter coaxes his targets into questioning their beliefs, memory and senses. Typical tactics include lying, denial and misdirection. The gaslighter might consistently deny or refuse to accept his targets’ account of their own experiences, so that they eventually relent and accept the gaslighter’s version.

For instance, the gaslighter could say, “I don’t recall that. You must have invented it or dreamt it.” Targets of gaslighting lose faith in the reliability of their own beliefs and feel unhinged, at sea. It’s as if they’re on a one-way path to lunacy.

So, how would you know if you’re being gaslighted?  Here are 10 signs:

  1. Someone in your life is making you feel confused and disoriented.
  2. You tend to apologize often to that person, after they’ve accused you of being mistaken, oversensitive or unstable.
  3. You sense that it’s difficult to make life decisions or capably act in your own interest without that person around to help you.
  4. You feel burdened by the expectations of others, especially that person.
  5. You sense that this person is a threat to you, but you can’t say exactly why.
  6. You start thinking that you’re significantly weaker than you were before, especially in this person’s presence.
  7. You’re constantly second-guessing your good judgment, your ability to recall details of events or whether you’ve seen/heard something correctly.
  8. You experience a feeling of guilt that you’re not as happy as you once were.
  9. You begin to believe that you’re “losing it,” becoming deluded or neurotic. 
  10. You feel alone, without hope, maybe even depressed.

The gaslighter’s ways of manipulation are subtle, but not impossible to detect.  Aletheia Luna of Lonerwolf identifies 6 techniques:

  • Discrediting you by making other people think that you’re crazy, irrational or unstable.
  • Using a mask of confidence, assertiveness, and/or fake compassion to make you believe that you “have it all wrong.” Therefore, eventually, you begin to doubt yourself and believe their version of past events.
  • Changing the subject. The gaslighter may divert the topic by asking another question, or making a statement usually directed at your thoughts.
  • Minimizing.  By trivializing how you feel and what you think, the gaslighter gains more and more power over you.
  • Denial and avoidance. By refusing to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, the gaslighter causes you to doubt yourself more and more. 
  • Twisting and reframing. When the gaslighter confidently and subtly twists and reframes what was said or done in their favor, they can cause you to second-guess yourself—especially when paired with fake compassion, making you feel as though you are “unstable,” “irrational,” and so forth. 

Bosses, human resources professionals, business partners and even therapists have been known to gaslight. Their aim is to sow seeds of self-doubt, gain control over your will and ultimately manipulate you.

Are you being gaslighted? If so, resist, reject the gaslighter and refuse to believe that you’re going insane.  
This post 10 Ways to Know You’re Being Gaslighted was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Shane Ralston.

25 Signs of Covert Narcissism: A Special Kind of Mind Game

covert-narcissist-798x445A covert narcissist is the worst kind of narcissist there is. Like a stealth bomb, you can’t see them coming until they have left their destruction.

There are countless articles written on the psychology of narcissism. The reason that it’s so highly researched is that someone who has narcissistic tendencies can do so much damage to the psyche of those around them, seemingly without having any idea of what they’re doing. Masters of manipulation, it’s almost inspiring to see the way they do what they do so flawlessly.

There is something to be said about allowing someone to overpower you when you know better and see the signs. But it’s something entirely different when you don’t even see it coming. This is why the covert narcissist is a whole new breed of a narcissist. As if it isn’t bad enough that they manipulate you, make you feel bad for just about everything, and that everything is your fault, by the time you know what’s going on, you’re so sucked in that it becomes difficult to find your way out.

Covert narcissism is one of the most extreme and damaging forms of narcissism that you can encounter. The thing that sets these narcissists apart is their highly defensive nature and being emotionally vulnerable, seemingly without any exterior trace of the planning and plotting in which they engage. Unlike other forms, the covert narcissist is like a stealth bomb—they come without any warning and destroy everything in their wake.

The 25 characteristics of a covert narcissist

A narcissist is someone who can take a toll on your sensibilities and your self-esteem, but a covert one can take a toll on your sanity, too. Many characteristics that are specific to covert narcissism are more difficult to spot. To maintain your self-esteem and your sanity, look for these signs that you’re in a relationship with someone who is keeping their narcissism under wraps.

#1 They are overly critical. Because they have so many insecurities of their own, they have a tendency to be overly critical of those around them. Projecting their own weaknesses onto those in their path, they can leave you to feel stupid, unwanted, or insignificant.

#2 Although charming, you only see it when they want something. Very charismatic when they want to be, the covert narcissist’s charm only comes out when they want something from you or the people around you. Like a switch, they can turn it on and turn it off, but it’s always to get something from the person they’re schmoozing.

#3 No matter what happens, you always feel at fault. As upset as you are with them, if you confront them or get into an argument with them, they manipulate the situation with such mastery that you end up feeling at fault and apologizing. A covert narcissist knows exactly how to spin something to make you feel like everything you were thinking is wrong, even when your own common sense and logic tells you otherwise. This tactic can be so mind-manipulating that you can start to feel like you’re going insane.

#4 They leave you feeling empty in your relationship with them. No matter how long you’re with them, you can feel alone and lonely. Regardless of the time you are together, the experiences that you share with them and the closeness that you crave, it always feels as if something is missing or isn’t quite right.

#5 They don’t care if they have to lie, steal, or cheat to get what they want. A narcissist sees everyone in relation to what they can do for them. Not really caring about anyone but themselves, everyone and everything is merely a tool to get what they want in life. They are not above lying, cheating, or stealing in order to make themselves feel better, more powerful, more admired, or more wealthy

#6 Stubborn and dogmatic, they only will concede if it gets them something. Getting an apology from a covert narcissist can only be accomplished if they want something from you or if it’s part of their end-game. You can argue with them until you’re blue in the face, but even when you get an apology, it’s empty. They don’t mean they are sorry; they mean that they stand to gain something from the concession, not that they believe they’re wrong.

#7 There’s something empty and uncaring about them that you can’t put your finger on. There’s no way to get close to them in a relationship. As if there is a protective layer to them that you can’t penetrate, things never seem quite right or real when you’re with a covert narcissist.

#8 They lack empathy. It makes no difference if it’s you or someone in a third-world nation who is starving to death, they have no ability to empathize, so they never feel sorry for anyone.

#9 They want the good things in life and are envious if anyone else has them. A narcissist rarely wants what they have; they are constantly in the market for what everyone else has that they deem important or worthy. They could be the richest person in the world and still envy others for something more than what they have.

#10 Their emotional intelligence is very low. Like talking to a brick wall, they just don’t seem to “get” what you’re saying. Not being able to feel empathy, they’re very low on emotional intelligence, which makes it difficult to talk to them on a deeper level.

#11 They have an inability to feel remorseful for what they do. Always blaming others, covert narcissists have an inability to feel sorry for what they have done.

#12 They will play the victim often and well. A covert narcissist will make you feel sorry for them, no matter what the truth of the matter is. Everything is someone else’s fault, and they are always merely an innocent bystander.

#13 They will blame everyone for their mistakes and misfortune. They seemingly have no control over anything they do or anything that is done to them. All of their misfortune is someone else’s fault because they bare no responsibility for their actions.

#14 No matter what you do, you can’t get close to them. Because of their low emotional intelligence, you just can’t seem to feel close to them no matter what you do. That will leave you feeling empty and alone.

#15 Whatever they’re feeling, they will project it onto you. They are experts at projecting any negative feelings they have onto the people in their lives. By making you feel bad, they make themselves feel better.

#16 Only one person exists in their universe, and it isn’t you. Highly selfish, they appear to be the only one in their universe. The only time they care about something that has to do with you is when it really has something to do with them.

#17 They are highly sensitive and over-reactive to criticism of any type. If you criticize them, they will overreact, and their anger is quick. Always needing praise and admiration, if you challenge them, they will attack to regain their dominance.

#18 They will engage in high-risk activities to get attention. Attention is the goal at any cost. If they have to do something dangerous or engage in risky behavior, the result is always greater than the danger of the act. There is nothing they won’t do to get the attention they crave.

#19 They see people as objects to get what they want. Incapable of forming bonds with people, they see those in their lives as tools to get what they want and need.

#20 They usually target those weaker than them. A covert narcissist will target anyone they think they can manipulate, whether they are strong or weak. But weakness is easier to dominate, so they very often choose highly sensitive or insecure people to be with.

#21 Although not empathetic, they know what you need and will play it against you. One of their biggest strengths is knowing what someone needs, and holding that over them to get what they want is one of their favorite manipulations games.

#22 They’re very jealous of others whom they admire. We are all jealous at times of successful people in our lives, but the covert narcissist is consumed by envy and jealousy. Not being able to see what they have, they are always searching to get something more.

#23 They will make you look bad to make themselves feel and look better. Working behind the scenes, a covert narcissist will often talk badly about the person they are closest to. Having to paint themselves as the martyr, the only way they can make themselves look good is by making everyone else look bad. That makes them the victor.

#24 Passive aggression is their weapon of choice. If you feel like you’re going insane, you are probably with a covert narcissist. They will plant seeds and let them grow. Making tiny suggestions about who you are or what you have done, they leave it to rest and fester in you until you believe it to be true.

#25 They need constant attention. The covert narcissist is not happy unless all eyes are on them. That makes those in a relationship with them feel as if they are only an accessory. They will charm everyone in their path and often ignore those who are the closest to them, knowing that they have gotten the attention they need from you already.

Like a Trojan horse, you don’t see the covert narcissist coming. They will take everything that they can from you and leave you an empty shell. Highly destructive to your self-esteem, if you are with one, you should find your way out while you can still leave with your heart, mind, and sensibilities still intact.
By Julie Keating via LovePanky



Warning Signs of Sex Trafficking

Right here in America…

Thousands of children are exploited through prostitution. The most common ages a child is first exploited through prostitution is 14 to 16.

What if it’s warningsomeone you know…

Could you recognize the warning signs of trafficking?
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What makes a child you love vulnerable to the dark underworld of the trafficking industry?

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The Truth About “Quiet” Verbal Abuse

Damage can be inflicted without raising your voice.

“What you have to understand is that my mother never raised her voice and when I confronted her about her treatment of me—her put-downs and criticisms, how she said I was the problem because I was too sensitive—that was the first thing she said: ‘How can you accuse me of that when I never raised my voice, not once, to you or anyone else?’ Well, abuse can be very quiet.” — Kaitlyn, 45

“I felt invisible in my childhood. My mother would ask me what I wanted to eat and then serve me something else. She’d ask if I were hungry and if I said I wasn’t, she’d go ahead and make me something and then look hurt or angry if I didn’t eat it. She did this constantly and it involved literally every choice. If I wanted red sneakers, she’d buy blue ones. I knew exactly how little I mattered to her. As an adult, I lack confidence in my own tastes and judgment.” — Alice, 50

It’s not just that the culture assesses verbal abuse as less damaging than the physical kind—which it is not—but that when most people think about verbal abuse, they tend to summon up images of someone screaming and yelling. They imagine that the decibels are loud and the pitch is fevered, and that the person shouting is out of control, shaking with rage or intent. But while that’s true in some households, it isn’t always. In fact, counterintuitively enough, some of the worst kinds of verbal abuse are quiet; silence in answer to a question asked or a comment made can pack a mightier wallop than a loud rant. Silence effectively ridicules and shames.

The child subjected to quiet abuse often experiences more emotional confusion than one who’s being yelled at or insulted, precisely because the absence of rage sends mixed signals and the motivation behind willful silence or a refusal to answer is impossible for a child to read. There’s a special kind of hurt in being treated as though you’re invisible, or that you are so unimportant in the scheme of things that you’re not even worth answering. Is there anything more chilling and hurtful than seeing your mother act as though she can’t see you, her face calm?

Everything science has learned about the effects of verbal abuse applies to the quiet variety, too, chief among these being:

  • Alteration of the child’s developing brain.
  • Internalization of the messages conveyed into a habit of self-criticism, attributing setbacks or mistakes to fixed flaws in character.
  • Insecure style of attachment and maladaptive ways of coping that interfere with healthy ways of relating.
  • Impaired emotional intelligence and problems managing and regulating emotions.

There are specific kinds of “quiet” verbal abuse, each of which affects a child differently. Of course, the effects don’t end with childhood but carry over into adulthood in myriad ways. I’ve categorized them in a descriptive, rather than scientific, manner though research confirms all of these behaviors.

Disappearing Act: Being Ignored

Much of the information children have about the world and relationships comes to them second-hand. With a caring and attuned mother who responds to his or her cues, a child begins to fathom that he or she matters and is worthy of attention; these are the seeds that yield healthy self-esteem. The attentive mother communicates the message that “You’re fine just as you are,” giving the child the courage and confidence to explore the world. But the child with a mother who ignores her learns instead that her place in the world is precarious, even though she doesn’t know why.

Thanks to the work of Edward Tronick, his colleagues, and the “Still-Face” experiments conducted almost 40 years ago, we actually know how being ignored affects infants and toddlers. (At the time, it was widely believed that infants as young as four or five months didn’t actually interact with their mothers.) Tronick videotaped mothers interacting with infants who cooed, pointed, vocalized, and waved their arms in response to their mothers’ smiling faces, words, and gestures. (Keep in mind that using videotape in this way in 1978 was new and innovative.) Then Tronick had the mothers simply stop and present a still, expressionless face to their babies. Initially, the babies continued to vocalize and gesture but when the mothers’ faces continued to be emotionless, the babies looked away and then began to wail. The tapes show the infants literally collapsing in their chairs, overwhelmed by feeling.

Studies done with toddlers, capable of speech, showed precisely the same pattern when their mothers stopped interacting and presented the still face. They began by trying to re-engage their mothers—doing all the cute things that usually worked—but when those failed, they turned their backs on their mothers. Avoidance was preferable to feeling the pain of being ignored, excluded and loveless.

Of course, in the experiment, the mother’s smiling face returned and the babies recovered, though not quickly or completely. But served up on a daily basis, the effects of being ignored on a child’s development are complex and profound. The coping mechanisms he or she adapts—an anxious or avoidant attachment style—affect her long past childhood and into adulthood and, without therapy or some other earned attachment, for life.

Deadly Quiet: Stonewalling

From a child’s perspective, being stonewalled may seem very much like being ignored but it has different emotional consequences, especially as he or she matures; intense anger and frustration, directed at the person stonewalling him or her, may be par for the course. It’s not an accident that what experts call Demand/Withdraw (essentially ask/stonewall) is considered the most toxic pattern in relationships. Marital expert John Gottman considers it a reliable sign that the union of two people is doomed to fail. It’s hard enough to deal with a stonewalling intimate when you’re an adult—your partner’s refusal to answer inevitably ratchets up your own frustration and anger—but it’s absolutely devastating to a child who doesn’t have any way of defending him or herself.

The child’s lack of developed and effective defense mechanisms is precisely what researchers in Israel honed in on when they examined the long-term effects of childhood emotional abuse. They concluded that the damage done to individuals’ self-esteem had much to do with the inability to protect and defend themselves and to internalizing the thought that they weren’t good enough to warrant their parents’ attention when parents were uncaring or harshly controlling.

Wounding Quiet: Contempt and Derision

Shaming a child can be accomplished sotto voce or even with physical gestures like eye-rolling or laughing at him or her to convey contempt or making him or her the butt of jokes. This particular variety of bullying can become a team sport in some households, if siblings are asked to join the fray and make the child a scapegoat. Controlling parents or those who need to be the center of attention often use these techniques to maintain the dynamics of the household as they want them. Once again, damage can be done without a raised voice.

Bait and Switch: Gaslighting

This tool of manipulation is aimed at having the child doubt his or her perceptions. (The term derives from a play—and later a film—about a man who tries to convince a woman she’s losing her mind.) Gaslighting doesn’t require shouting or yelling; all it takes is a simple statement that something that actually happened didn’t. Given the imbalance of power in the parent-child relationship—and the fact that a young child accepts the adult as the last word and authority on most things until she gets old enough to begin questioning her mother’s judgment—gaslighting is relatively easy. It not only makes a child worry about being “crazy” but erodes her confidence in her own thoughts and feelings in a profound and lasting way. Again, keep in mind that children don’t have conscious defense mechanisms.

“For Your Own Good”: Hypercriticality

In many households, both the loud and the quiet kinds of verbal abuse are rationalized by the need to correct perceived flaws in the child’s character or behavior. Hypercriticality—nitpicking and then magnifying every misstep or mistake—may be “justified” or “explained” by having to make sure the child “isn’t too full of himself,” “doesn’t let his successes go to his head,” “learns humility,” “knows who’s boss” and other self-serving statements that are just excuses for cruel adult behavior. Delivered in a quiet tone, this barrage of criticism makes a child believe she’s unworthy of attention and support because she’s worthless.

Utter Silence: The Absence of Praise, Support, and Love

The power of what isn’t said cannot be overstated because the void it leaves in a child’s psyche and heart is enormous. Children are hardwired to need all the things that the abusive parent neither voices nor demonstrates in order to thrive and develop normally. In truth, words that articulate why a child is worthy of love and attention are as essential as food, water, clothing, and shelter.

Quiet and Shadows: Normalizing the Abuse

It’s a sad truth that a child’s world is so small that he or she thinks that what goes on in it goes on everywhere. Most children attribute verbal abuse to their flaws and “badness”; as Rachel Goldsmith and Jennifer Freyd note, this attribution may actually be less scary than “the scarier prospect that the caregiver can’t be trusted and may help create an illusion of control.” Even as adults, those verbally abused in the quiet manner during childhood may rationalize or normalize their parents’ behaviors for many different reasons. Seeing the ways in which you’ve been wounded by those charged to love you is hard for women and men alike.

It’s not just that verbal abuse is under-reported, but it’s not written and talked about often enough, and its lasting effects are not understood by the public at large. Let’s buck the trend and start paying attention to the quiet kind, too.

This post was inspired by my readers on Facebook who asked me to address the effects of “the silent treatment.”

by Peg Streep, Psychology Today


Finzi-Dottan, Ricky and Toby Karu, “From Emotional Abuse in Childhood to Psychopathology in Adulthood,” The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (August 2006), vol. `94, no.8, 616-622.

Tronick, Edward Z.”Emotions and Emotional Communication in Infants,” American Psychologist (1989) 44,112-126.

Weinberger, M. Katherine and E.Z. Tronick,” Infant Affectivee Reactions to the Resumption of Maternal Interaction After the Still-Face,” Child Development (1996), 67, 905-914.

Goldsmith, Rachel K. and Jennifer J. Freyd,” Effects of Emotional Abuse in Family and Work Environments: Awareness for Emotional Abuse,” Journal of Emotional Abuse (2005), vol. 5 (1), 95-123.


Self Love U: 25 Reasons You Let People Treat You Like Shit

I’ve never heard this explained quite so well…

25 shitThis article pokes fun, but Codependency is a serious issue rooted in childhood conditioning that causes you to deny yourself and give your power away. The list of 25 Reasons Why You Let People Treat You Like Shit below shows you exactly how you’re unconsciously screwing yourself and allowing yourself to be screwed.

Codependency is a learned pattern of relating that leads to broken relationships and pain. You don’t know where you begin and other people end. You violate your own boundaries and the boundaries of others by trying to control their perception and treatment of you. The list below will show you specifically how you may be doing this with friends, family, lovers, children or spouses.

A codependent person tends to merge with others in relationship and fails to maintain ego strength with healthy boundaries and self protective measures. It’s nice to know this, but realizing exactly how this occurs in action is a different matter.

A codependent gives too much in relationships and is easy prey (and feels most comfortable) with people who are narcissistic and exploitative. In short, whether we realize it or not, we WANT to be treated like shit, and it’s up to us to flush the toilet. We are NOT victims. We’re in control of what happens to us. Whatever is on the inside of us manifest on the outside. If we get treated like shit, that means we’re doing it to ourselves first. We must go inside and heal our core wounds by releasing the frozen emotions and uprooting the negative core beliefs and uncovering our true, authentic selves.

Recovery from codependency is hard; it requires extensive examination and reclamation of your personal worth and value. If you want to recover your sense of self and operate in a way that garners respect, you must learn to respect yourself. You must stop putting other people ahead of yourself and start seeing yourself as equal. Codependency is a relationship issue that must be healed on every level from the inside out. It may seem like a lost cause, but take it from me–there is hope for healing if you do the work necessary. Don’t ever give up.

One issue for the codependent is that he or she is often abused, disrespected, violated and treated like a doormat in personal relationships.The codependent was not taught as a child to value and to protect oneself or to recognize when he or she is being harmed relationally. We protect others from the ramifications of violating our boundaries and disrespecting us. This is a major problem as it invites abuse, mistreatment and disregard from others. The question is, WHY and HOW do we do this?

  1. I feel uncomfortable for YOU when you violate my boundaries. My loyalties are maligned due to the conditioning of my childhood. Instead of advocating for myself in my close present day relationships, I advocate for the other person. I minimize my needs in favor of the other. I love too much and it feels like poop.
  2. I don’t realize when I’m being subtly and sometimes blatantly disrespected. Again, due to conditioning, I do not notice initially when I’m being disrespected. I was not valued as a child, so it feels normal to me, that is, until it gets out-of-hand; which it always does when I fail to set boundaries.
  3. I give too much benefit of the doubt. When my boundaries are violated or someone disrespects me, I automatically assume they aren’t aware of what they’re doing. I immediately forgive them without protecting myself first. Instead of standing up for myself, I attempt to convince them that what they are doing is wrong. This is back-ass-wards. Why do I keep teaching them how to wipe?
  4. I overvalue the relationship at the expense of my dignity. I need and want relationships in my life which is a healthy desire. I don’t want to be alone, therefore, I place more value on keeping the connection than I do on protecting myself from being trampled or bull-dozed by abusive or controlling behavior. Technically, this cognitive distortion is caused by Betrayal Blindness that I acquired from childhood trauma.
  5. I try to prove myself worthy when disrespected, rather than asserting a boundary. I try to get the other to cooperate instead of standing up. I remind you what a good friend, lover, family member I am. I bring up the ways I care for you and expect the same thing in return. This is at the heart of codependent merging behavior–trying to change how they’re thinking instead of thinking for and about myself. And, it doesn’t work. The only thing that shows another person you are worthy and valuable is if you ARE worthy and valuable. The only way to be worthy and valuable is if YOU believe it. When you know your worth, there is nothing to prove.
  6. I want to believe that someone I love is perfect and would never disrespect me. I pretend the world is Pollyanna and rearrange my reality by believing that someone I care about will not harm me. I live in a fantasy, delusional fairy-tale that ends up being a hellish nightmare rerun. Just because I love someone does not guarantee they will treat me well. I always need to protect myself by setting limits no matter how much I love the person.
  7. I assume the other person feels and thinks like me. My goal in relationship is to always think of the other person’s feelings, to protect them and keep them safe–this is the codendent’s curse. I wrongfully assume that other people have the same standards for me. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are mean-spirited, selfish, rotten people out there–and I’ve been hurt by a lot of them. Still, I ignore all the warning signs and give myself away. There goes my heart as it runs from my brain.
  8. I need the relationship, so I take more than my share of responsibility. I want to keep the relationship intact no matter what. I take responsibility for the other person’s behavior instead of staying true to myself. When someone violates my boundaries or disrespects me, I become Mother Theresa and try to fix it. I learned this in childhood to survive. I keep forgetting I don’t need it anymore.
  9. I don’t want to offend anyone, even if they’re offensive to me. I am extra careful of stepping on the toes of loved ones out of fear they will abandon me. I don’t want to cause them pain, even at my own expense. I try to keep them safe from feeling badly for hurting me by hiding my truth and ignoring my needs. In exchange, that person farts on my head. Gee, thanks–you know who you are. #psyche!
  10. I am blind to the truth that another person will hurt me on purpose. I can’t fathom that someone I love and care about will hurt me in any way (consciously or unconsciously). Instead of protecting myself and setting limits, I try to get them to see the err of their ways. I abandon my own identity in favor of helping them validate my identity for me. (C’mon and cooperate will ya???) Although I’m learning that it’s not healthy to assume that others (even those you love) will always be giving, loyal and thinking of my best interests. Even the nicest people in the world take advantage of you if you let them. Someone has to take care of me… plus, there are some real wounded assholes out there. Pew wee.
  11. I try to validate myself by trying to get you to validate me. Due to childhood conditioning, I feel inherently wrong or invalid. I need validation that I haven’t yet learned to give to myself. I’ve been taught to seek external validation. I try to convince you to validate me by proving to you that you’re wrong in disrespecting me. I need the other person to admit that they are the piece of shit, and I am the sweet honeysuckle soap. Why do I need this? That’s another article.
  12. I am a magnet for people who play power and control games. My relationships are usually based on power and control, however unbeknownst to me. Against my will. I am playing a game that I let them win. I am playing in a game I don’t want to play, that I don’t know how to play and worse, that I don’t even know is being played, yet I always end up the loser. The cards were counted long ago.
  13. I over-empathize with others. I take responsibility for the other person’s feelings while abandoning mine. I feel more uncomfortable for the other person than I do for myself, even when I’m being abused, discounted, rejected, disregarded or ignored. I have an overabundance of empathy for the other person and zero for me; even when no empathy is being shown towards me. This is the victim role that promises heaven but takes me to hell.
  14. I automatically assume that others are right and I am wrong. When I am being violated, my first thought is that I am wrong in some way. I am wrong for feeling hurt. I am wrong for expecting respect. The confusion of not knowing which end is up keeps me from asserting myself.
  15. I don’t know what respectful behavior feels like. The concept of being respected for who I am is foreign to me. I feel like I have to fight for my own identity by convincing others to validate me. I don’t have an internal working model of relating in a healthy, respectful and self-affirming way. My only guide is the mistakes that I have made and my desperation to know true love.
  16. I become entangled with narcissistic, selfish and exploitative people. I have been taught to put my head on the chopping block. I allow myself to be used. I am blind to the grooming phase of narcissistic, blood-sucking behavior. I am most comfortable being a victim. I’ve been taught to be selfless in response to the selfishness; to value giving myself away more than holding onto my power. The universe keeps bringing me what I do not realize I am asking for…
  17. I feel uncomfortable when someone else feels uncomfortable for disrespecting me. I take too much responsibility for other people’s feelings. I am so busy trying to help the other feel okay, that I neglect how I feel or what I need. Instead of using my energy to take care of myself, I use it to protect the other person from feeling badly about hurting me. I hide my own truth and keep quiet instead of standing up. I am more emotionally attuned to the other person than I am to my own self. I love others with all my heart, then they take my heart away.
  18. I ignore actions that show that the other person is un-empathetic. I am not cognizant of my right to be heard, understood and respected. When someone is un-empathetic and invalidating towards me, instead of setting a boundary, I work harder trying to convince that person to feel for me. It’s like I get stuck on this sentence. “This is not the way it’s supposed to be. This is why and how you are hurting me, don’t you agree?” I try to lay it out so they will understand… Ah, the bloodletting.
  19. I am trained to seek agreement with the other as to what is right and wrong. I do not decide for myself. I withhold judgment of what actions are devaluing, degrading or abusive (unless it’s a blatant slap in the face). I seek consensus before taking action on my own behalf. This powerlessness keeps me in the victim-cycle. I wrongfully think that unless I get agreement from the other party, I do not have the right to assert myself. I seek approval from the one who is being disrespectful as to whether they’re being disrespectful. Can you guess their response?
  20. I fail to set boundaries. I don’t set boundaries because 1.) I want to please the other person; 2.) I don’t want to be rejected; 3.) I am out of touch with my own needs and feelings; and 4.) I often don’t know how, when or where to assert myself effectively. My lack of boundaries cause other people to disrespect me and the cycle continues…
  21. When offenses add up, I feel guilty for “over-reacting.” Instead of taking care of myself throughout the relationship, I allow the other person to walk over me little-by-little. When the offenses add up, I get angry and emotional. This angry outburst leads me to feel guilty. Then, I feel so badly that I forget the original violation. This wrong feeling causes me to blame myself for everything and kiss butt even more.
  22. I feel guilty when I assert boundaries. I feel guilty when I have to set boundaries to protect myself from the other. I feel guilty for not being able to give the other person whatever it is they want from me, even if what they want is to devalue, control and take away my power. When I must set a boundary, instead of realizing my own worth and value, I feel guilty for not being able to provide the other person what he or she wants, even if what is wanted is harmful to me. Self abandonment at its finest.
  23. I blame myself whenever someone else treats me poorly. Instead of asserting a healthy boundary, I second guess myself and question whether I have the right to feel, think or behave as I do. I minimize the offense as a way of taking full responsibility for the other person’s poor treatment of me. Blaming myself is the way I learned to stay safe as a child, when it wasn’t safe to be assertive.
  24. I fear being abandoned and rejected. I wrongfully think that I need connection with the other more than I need connection with myself. I disrespect my truth by succumbing to fear of rejection and abandonment that is left over from when I was little and would die without love. I allow others to treat me in a substandard way in order to keep them in my life. I’m stuck in my old story. I don’t realize that I have a self or any power of my own because up until now, I’ve given everything away for nothing.
  25. I feel inherently flawed in relationships, so I try to make up for it by overlooking disrespect. I have been taught that I am bad or wrong, and this spills over into how I see myself in relationships. When you disrespect me, my first thought is that I have done something wrong to deserve maltreatment. Instead of advocating on my own behalf, I take your side against me. This shame keeps me tolerating what deep down I feel I deserve.
  26. I feel uncomfortable with equal relationships. I feel most at ease when I am the one who is doing most of the giving. When I’m the one who gives the most, I feel like I have the upper-hand. Giving more is a way for me to control your image of me. I overcompensate because I have a faulty understanding of my own worth and value to myself and to others.


Instead of setting boundaries, I try to make the other person feel guilty for hurting me. Since I never learned that I had a right to set boundaries, the only tactic I know of that may actually work is to try to make the other person feel guilty for treating me like shit. Note to self: You’re out of toilet paper.


I share my truth with people who are unsafe. My psyche is numb to the dangers of unsafe people, so I allow them to get too close. I am vulnerable to toxic people as a sort of “repetition compulsion” in order to get something from them that I desperately needed, but couldn’t get in my childhood. I’m compelled to depend on the undependable. The stench is unbearable.


I am turned-off by nice, healthy people. People who will love me unconditionally and treat me well have less appeal than the charming, glossy manipulators who feed me with flattery and promise me sandcastles. I’m not comfortable with the seeming dullness of reality. I wrongfully think that I am not able to receive healthy love.


I am looking for the perfect savior. I’m looking for someone (a parent) to come and save me rather than taking responsibility for myself. Instead of grounding in my own mature, adult power, I give it all away like a helpless child to all the wrong people. When someone lets me down I can stay the good-gal by blaming them for hurting me instead of being responsible. I’m ever looking out for the one who will finally keep my boundaries intact and who will tell me who I am. Will you be my mother? My savior is me.

We learn codependent behavior from our caretakers in childhood who learned this in their childhood, and on and on. I learned to relate codependently as a survival technique. In order to maintain connection with my primary caretakers, which I needed to survive and develop, I learned to deny my own needs and focus on their needs. I learned to be hyper-aware of what the other person needs instead of focusing on my own needs. This survival technique served me well, for here I am… However, this way of relating is detrimental to having healthy relationships as an adult. Putting the needs of others over myself and denying my own needs to accommodate other people is self abandonment; it causes confusion, pain and turmoil. Now that I’m aware, I can reinforce my own needs by realizing that my own personal dignity trumps any and all relationships with others.
Awareness is 99% of the game. Just knowing how you truly think and feel is half the battle, but it is in the implementation of what you know that your true power arises. If you were raised to relate codependently, you will need to be extremely mindful of your current relationship patterns as well as the underlying motivations and intentions for your behavior. Examine everything. Life is a classroom and your lesson is learning to love and value yourself on all levels. I have confidence that both of us will pass the test. Btttttttt


by Jenna Ryan