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The Emotionally Abused Woman: Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself (Fawcett Book)

Published by Fawcett Books on 1992-02
Paperback: £10.00

If you feel unfairly criticized, controlled by others, or are afraid of being lonely, you could be suffering from emotional abuse. Now there is help in this compassionate sourcebook. Bevery Engel, a marriage, family, and child therapist, guides you through a step-by-step recovery process to help you heal the damage done in the past.
(Paperback (1st), 1992-02)
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ASIN: 0449906442
ISBN: 9780449906446
EAN: 9780449906446



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Emotionally JtBUSED WOMAN

Also by Beverly Engel The Right to Innocence Encouragements for the Emotionally Abused Woman Partners in Recovery Divorcing a Parent Raising Your Sexual Self Esteem Sensual Sex The Parenthood Decision Families in Recovery Blessings from the Fall Beyond the Birds and Bees Women Circling the Earth Loving Him Without Losing Him The Power of Apology The Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Emotionally WOMAN Overcoming DestructivePatterns and Reclaiming^foυrself ΈeverlyEngelMLECC Fawcett Books New York

Fawcett Book Published by The Random House Publishing Group Copyright © 1990 by RGA Publishing Group Inc and Beverly Engel All rights reserved under International and Pan American Copyright Con ventions Published in the United States by Fawcett Books an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group a division of Random House Inc New York and distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited Toronto Fawcett is a registered trademark and the Fawcett colophon is a trademark of Random House Inc www ballantinebooks com This edition published by arrangement with Lowell House Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 91 72893 ISBN 0 449 90644 2 Manufactured in the United States of America First Ballantine Books Edition February 1992 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22

This book is dedicated to the little girl and young woman inside of me who suffered for so long all alone and who so bravely overcame so much of the emotional abuse of her childhood

Contents Acknowledgments xi Introduction My Story 1 PART I UNDERSTANDING YOUR DESTRUCTIVE PATTERNS CHAPTER I The Emotionally Abused Woman 7 Why Emotional Abuse Is So Insidious 10 Women as Victims 11 Are You Being Emotionally Abused 13 Who Are the Emotional Abusers 22 Taking Steps Toward Recovery 29 CHAPTER 2 Types of Emotionally Abused Women 31 The Selfless Woman 31 The Phaser 34 The Sinner 36 The Codependent 38 The Drama Junkie 41 The Victim or Martyr 44 CHAPTER 3 The Many Faces of the Emotional Abuser 47 True to Type Specific M O s of Emotional Abusers 48 Some Unhealthy Matches 65

PART 2 UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF THE KEY TO CHANGE CHAPTER 4 Why Are You Attracted to Emotional Abusers 73 Why Do You Choose Abusers 74 Discovering Your Original Abusers 78 Abuse by Other Caretakers and Authority Figures 88 Abuse by Peers and Siblings 90 When There Is More Than One Abuser in Your Life 94 Patterns of Abuse 97 CHAPTER 5 Completing Your Unfinished Business 103 Discovering Your Unfinished Business 106 Reclaiming Your Emotions 107 Releasing Your Anger and Confronting Your Original Abuser 110 Resolving Your Relationship with Your Original Abuser 120 Separating Emotionally from Your Parents 122 Letting Go of False Hope 125 Becoming Your Own Good Parent 126 P A R T 3 DECIDING WHAT TO D O NEXT CHAPTER 6 Should You Stay or Should You Leave 133 When Is It Best to Leave 134 Taking a Stance 137 What If You Can't Decide 143 What Do I Need to Do Before Γm Ready to Leave 147 What Will He Do If I Decide to Leave 149

CHAPTER 7 If You Decide to Stay 151 Staying in an Abusive Love Relationship 152 When You Don't Want to Quit Your Job 154 Learning to Take Care of Yourself 156 Learning How to Handle Abusive People 174 PART 4 A TIME TO HEAL CHAPTER 8 Taking Time for Yourself 181 Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places 182 Your Journey Toward Self Discovery 185 Getting to Know Yourself 188 Learning to Be Responsible for Yourself 192 CHAPTER 9 Raising Your Self Esteem 194 Sifting Through Parental Messages 195 What Can You Do to Begin Raising Your Self Esteem 197 CHAPTER 10 Changing Your Pattern and Breaking the Cycle of Abuse 210 How to Change Your Relationship Pattern 210 Breaking the Cycle How to Avoid Being an Abusive Parent 216 CHAPTER 11 Continuing to Change 225 Specific Advice for Each Type of Emotionally Abused Woman 226 Getting Used to Healthy Relationships 232

References and Recommended Reading 235 Resources 239 Index 240

Acknowledgments I wish to thank the following people for their contribution to this book My continual gratitude and admiration go to Janice Gallagher for her constant faith in me her honesty her steadfast support consistent graciousness flexibility and endless flow of ideas I also want to express my appreciation for providing just enough direction without taking over the project and for allowing me to muddle through my own stuck places A special thanks to Patti Cohen for being incredibly efficient helpful and patient and for always being gracious and cheerful whenever I call no matter how busy she might be Patti McDermott for so generously offering her time and energy to read the first part of the book for her wonderful suggestions and for her continual interest in my writing projects Linda Riggs for ordering some excellent feedback about the first chapter and especially for her suggestions regarding the Selfless woman Mary Nadler for once again doing an excellent job of editing even though it was a rush job and for greatly improving the text without changing the meaning Derek Gallagher for being clear and fair about deadlines for his patience and for doing an excellentjob Lise Wood for her valuable marketing Jack Artenstein for being such a warm and human*' publisher and for being so enthusiastic about my books And everyone at Lowell House who continue to make writing books a pleasurable experience

My Story I am forty two years old a successful therapist with sixteen years of experience and I have written three books Yet at times I still feel like a wounded unwanted child This is because of the severe emotional abuse I received both as a child and as an adult from my mother That abuse caused me to doubt my self my perceptions my abilities and most of all my lovableness Although I was also sexually abused as a child by three separate men the emotional abuse and neglect I suffered have been the hardest for me to recover from My mother emotionally abused me in many ways but the most damaging aspect washer criticalness Because she was so extremely critical of me I grew up with very low self esteem I always felt less than other people and lacked confidence in my abilities I felt awkward in my body and unsure of my words While at times I covered up much of my discomfort with a false bravado and could fool other people I could never fool myself I always compared myself unfavorably with others I always saw others as being better than I was as having more and being happier Early on I tried to cover up my insecurity by being ex tremely polite and helpful I gave away everything in my attempt to buy love—my possessions my body and my self The best way I can describe just how desperate I was to be loved and accepted is to tell a story from my childhood When I was about six years old I found a large pink quartz crystal in a riverbed I had always loved pretty rocks so when I found this beautiful rock I thought it was the most wonderful thing I had ever seen I felt very lucky to have found it and I

Introduction treasured it for years taking it out to look at it often being comforted by its cool smooth texture When I was nine we moved to a new neighborhood As a way of getting attention from the other kids on the block I brought out my crystal to show off As all the kids admired my rock I finally felt accepted and part of the group Then someone suggested that we drop the crystal and break it in pieces so that everyone could have a piece of it In my desperate attempt to be accepted I dropped my beloved crystal on the street and gave away pieces of it to the other children When it was over all I had left was one little piece This incident was a perfect metaphor for my life I con tinued to give away different parts of myself until I had very little left for myself I took care of others' needs and was generous to a fault—but I didnt take care of my own needs Until I was finally able to fully recognizejust how deprived neglected and abandoned I had been as a child I was unable to recognize how much I was allowing myself to be emotionally abused as an adult Until I faced the truth about my childhood and my mother I continued to lie to myself about how big and strong I was as an adult In reality I was still a little child allowing myself to be victimized by lovers friends and bosses As it is with many women who were emotionally abused as children I built up a facade of being supercompetent fearless and powerful to hide the fact that I felt so inadequate fearful and small I presented myself as the caretaker of others the nurturer and the rescuer to hide the fact that I was so in need of nurturing and help myself Because I was in denial about just how damaged I was like most victims of emotional abuse I continued to allow others to abuse me Because my self esteem was so low when I first started dating I felt as if I had to go out with anyone who asked me As I got older I became involved with people who were very much like my mother and who abused me emotionally in much the same way that she had I often surrounded myself with people who didn't respect or value me who took advantage of my generosity or who tried to control me and were as critical of me as my mother had been I was grateful for whatever small kindness anyone bestowed on me because I didnt feel I deserved

My Story 3 anything better and because I was so used to being ignored deprived or taken for granted I also repeated the cycle of abuse in other ways I became as emotionally abusive to myself as my mother had been to me by not valuing and respecting my emotions and by not giving my self credit for my accomplishments Totally disregarding my own wishes and desires I forced myself to do things that I didn't want to do because I thought I should do them This included every thing from being polite to people that I knew gossiped behind my back to being sweet childlike and ultrafeminine when deal ing with authority figures I criticized myself relentlessly expect ing myself to be superhuman in terms of what I accomplished and of being understanding and giving to others I was also critical of others Because I had been raised with such extreme criticism and very little praise I tended to exipect too much of others and have very little tolerance in my intimate relationships The scars of emotional abuse are still with me as they are with all women who were emotionally abused as children But I have discovered and developed a sense of self that I am now respectful of and true to I have worked on building my self esteem and on not expecting perfection of myself and of others I don't have to be all good or all loving and neither do the people I am close to I have also learned to accept my limitations and to work with them in order to protect myself from further abuse as an adult I consider it a privilege to share with you what I have learned about emotional abuse and its effects as well as about how to recover from this devastating form of abuse


The Emotionally Abused Woman The emotionally abused woman is a particular type of woman a woman who has established a pattern of continually being emo tionally abused by those she is involved with whether it be her lover or husband her boss her friends her parents her children or her siblings No matter how successful how intelligent or how attractive she is she still feels less than other people Despite perhaps having taken assertion training classes she still feels afraid to stand up for herself in her relationships and is still victimized by her low self esteem her fear of authority figures or her need to be taken care of by others She was emotionally abused as a child but she may or may not recognize how exten sively this kind of childhood abuse continues to affect her life Sometimes I just hate myself I don't know why but I let everybody walk all over me—my boss my husband my kids even my friends I agree to do things I don't want to do I go places I don't want to go and all the while I resent it I just can't bring myself to say no to people no matter how hard I try I can't believe I did it again Each time I fall in love I think that he is the one that I have finally found someone who will treat me with kindness and concern But they all end up to be jerks who he to me use me and end up not even caring about me What's wrong with me that I keep doing this Why can't I spot the loser the jerk instead of always being taken in I'm thirty seven years old and yet when it comes to men I have thejudgment of a teenager

Understanding Your Destructive Patterns These words were spoken by women who have grown and changed in many significant ways Nevertheless they continue to choose partners and friends who cause them pain and embarrass ment They just cannot seem to stand up for themselves in rela tionships no matter how hard they try Because they have worked on themselves so much—through therapy Twelve Step programs and or self help books—these women often feel hopeless and increasingly critical of themselves They recognize that despite their efforts to change there is still something very wrong with their ability to choose people who will treat them with respect and consideration It is often difficult for a woman to admit that she is indeed being emotionally abused particularly if she is competent and successful in all other respects But emotional abuse is nothing to be ashamed of While it is hard to determine the exact number of women in the United States who are emotionally abused we do know that the number is astronomical While emotional abuse is probably the most common type of abuse until now it has received the least attention Many women who are being emo tionally abused do not even realize what is happening to them Many suffer from the effects of emotional abuse—depression lack of motivation confusion difficulty concentrating or mak ing decisions low self esteem feelings of failure worthlessness and hopelessness self blame and self destructiveness—but do not understand what is causing these symptoms Many women who seek help for their symptoms do so without any awareness of why they are suffering This was the case with Maggie At our first session she said to me I don't know why I'm here exactly except that I've been feeling very depressed lately I cant seem to get myself going When I wake up in the morning I just want to pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep I have to drag myself out of bed and in to work At night when I come home I want to curl up in bed right away but I have to make dinner and clean the house and get ready for work the next day By the time I get to bed I'm too tired to have sex with my husband He's been complaining a lot lately because he thinks I dont love him Do you love him Do you have a happy marriage I inquired wondering whether there might be marital problems

The Emotionally Abused Woman 9 I do love him but I just feel so much pressure in my life that I cant take any more from him How does he pressure you Well it seems that I cant do anything right I know Γm not a very good wife but Γm under such pressure at work and I feel so tired I guess I just cant be there for him in the ways that he needs me to be Maggie wasn't being very specific about what her problems were but as the weeks passed I discovered that her vague de scription of her husband's never being pleased with her was an extreme understatement Her husband was tearing down her self esteem daily by constantly complaining that she was a lousy cook and a terrible housekeeper that she never wanted to listen to him talk about his day that she never wanted to have sex that she didn't love him As Maggie opened up and shared more about her situation with me it became more and more evident that she was trapped in a vicious cycle The more her husband complained about her the more depressed she became the less energy she had and the less desire she had to have sex with her husband This made him complain all the more Even though Maggie was not being phys ically abused by her husband the emotional abuse she sustained from him was damaging her just as much as if she were being beaten Maggie was also being emotionally abused by her boss An extremely demanding man he complained constantly that Mag gie was not doing her job He verbally berated her in front of other employees stood over her to scrutinize her work and docked her pay when she was even a few minutes late coming back from lunch even though he often insisted that she work late with no overtime pay No wonder Maggie was depressed It was amazing that she was even able to continue functioning at all with the pressure she was under By the time she finally came in to see me her self esteem was incredibly low and she truly believed that she was a lazy no good person who didn't deserve either her job or her husband The saddest part about Maggie's case was that she didnt think she was being abused at all even after I told her I believed

10 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns she was But my husband and my boss cant both be wrong she protested It must be me—why else would they both be saying the same things I am lazy and I don't do the best I could at home or at work I get confused easily I cant make decisions and half the time I seem to be in a daze It's a miracle that I even do as well as I do Those who are being emotionally abused often grow to believe their abusers' accusations The abused women do in deed become less and less productive less motivated less affec tionate and less sexual And as their self esteem plummets and their depression deepens they also feel less loving Like Maggie and many other women you may not know that you are being emotionally abused While you may realize that your husband boyfriend or boss seems to be demanding and hard to please you may not consider his behavior abusive So what exactly is emotionally abusive behavior WHY EMOTIONAL ABUSE IS SO INSIDIOUS First let's define abuse Abuse is any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear humiliation and verbal or physical assaults Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics such as intimidation manipula tion and refusal to ever be pleased Emotional abuse is like brainwashing in that it sys tematically wears away at the victim's self confidence sense of self worth trust in her perceptions and self concept Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling by intimidation or under the guise of guidance or teaching the results are simi lar Eventually the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and all remnants of personal value Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person creating scars that may be far deeper and more lasting than physical ones In fact a great proportion of the damage caused by physical or sexual abuse is emotional With emotional abuse the insults the insinuations the crit icism and the accusations slowly eat away the victim's self

The Emotionally Abused Woman 11 esteem until she is incapable ofjudging the situation realistically She has become so beaten down emotionally that she blames herselfTor the abuse Her self esteem is so low that she clings to her abuser While those who emotionally abuse others don't always in tend to destroy those around them they do set out to control them And what better way to control someone than to make her doubt her perceptions What better way than to cause her to have such low self esteem that she becomes dependent on her abuser Emotional abuse victims become so convinced they are worthless that they believe no one else could possibly want them Therefore they stay in abusive situations because they believe they have nowhere else to go Their ultimate fear is that of being all alone And of course the idea of being alone is extremely frightening to someone who doesn't have a good sense of self For such a person being alone means feeling like a child who is all alone in a cruel world with no one to turn to As noted it is not uncommon for a woman to be emo tionally abused by more than one person This is because the pattern of abuse often started when she was a child so she has grown up with low self esteem and the expectation of being abused As a result she continually attracts abusive people into her life While Maggies abusers were men not all emotional abusers are male In fact some women use other less assertive women as targets for acting out their anger and rage There are also misogynistic females—that is women who have a deep dis like distrust and disdain for other women And some women may be so envious andjealous of a female friend that they under mine and sabotage the friend's relationships or career Even though emotional abusers can be of either sex most women reading this book will likely be concerned about their relationships with abusive boyfriends or husbands Therefore I will refer to the emotional abuser as he throughout unless I am specifically referring to a female abuser WOMEN AS VICTIMS This book is written for women in particular even though it is not uncommon for males to be victims of emotional abuse

12 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns especially as children But boys who are emotionally abused or who witness the emotional abuse of a parent very often identify with the aggressor They tend to emulate the behavior of the abusive person thus repeating the cycle of abuse by becoming abusers themselves This is because it is generally unacceptable in our society for a male to be seen as a victim Males feel ashamed at being victimized and will prefer to be seen as an aggressor rather than expose their vulnerability However females are typ ically socialized to identify with victims And since the role of victim is one that women are more accustomed to they tend to tolerate abusive situations much longer than males do Maggie is a victim notjust of her husband and her boss but of society in general Even though we may think that things have changed considerably since the women's movement began in the 1960s the changes have primarily been in terms of increased career opportunities When it comes to relationships and to who does what in the household things haven't really changed much Believing that cooking and housework are the woman's respon sibility and that the man is the boss in the family Maggie bought into her husband's complaints about her not being a good enough cook and housekeeper instead of insisting that he pitch in and help And Maggie's belief in the superior position of men influenced the way she dealt with her boss Because he was the boss and because he was a man she believed that his wishes must be honored no matter how unreasonable they might be In addition many women are raised to be compliant and to smooth things over in relationships rather than to stand up for their own wishes and needs They are much more likely to sacrifice their own needs if they think that doing so will benefit the relationship These women tend to back down or apologize whenever there has been a disagreement taking the blame for it Often an emotionally abused woman feels compelled to stay in an abusive relationship because she feels a responsibility to her children Even though her husband is emotionally abusive to her she may continue to endure the abuse out of fear of not being able to provide for her children adequately on her own She may rationalize this decision by convincing herself that since her husband is not abusing her physically is not unfaithful and brings home his check every payday he is a good husband

The Emotionally Abused Woman 13 And single mothers with abusive bosses frequently have a very difficult time walking away from abusive situations since they are often the sole breadwinners in their households ARE YOU BEING EMOTIONALLY ABUSED To determine whether or not you are being emotionally abused you will need to work past any resistance you have to the idea your continual doubting of yourself and your tendency to give the abuser the benefit of the doubt Even those women who already know they are being emotionally abused may go in and out of denial aboutjust how damaging the abuse really is The following is a list of many of the types of emptional abuse that women suffer You will readily recognize many of the behaviors on the list as abusive but it may surprise you to dis cover some that you may not think of as abusive D Domination D Verbal assaults D Abusive expectations D Emotional blackmail D Unpredictable responses D Constant criticism D Character assassination D Gaslighting D Constant chaos D Sexual harassment Domination People who dominate others need to be in charge and they often try to control another person's every action They have to have their own way and they will often resort to threats to get it

14 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns When you allow yourself to be dominated by someone else you begin to lose respect for yourself and you become silently enraged Someone else is in control of your life just asassuredly as if you were a slave doing what you were ordered to do You are no longer the master of your own destiny Tia's husband Jim had control of all aspects of their lives He regulated all money matters—how much money was spent what it was spent on and who had what to spend Since Tia didnot work outside the home she had to rely on Jim to provideher with spending money If I needed anything I would have to askJim for the money This was always a major ordeal since I had to justify my reasons for wanting it and Jim would have to think it over before making his decision I always felt like a child asking my father for permission Jim also had control over thecouples social life Jim was critical of all my girlfriends He didn't want me to be around them—he said they were all whores because they went to bars In stead he wanted us to get together with his friends from work and their wives but I had nothing in common with these people The men would all stay in one room and drink and play poker and the women would all sit in the living room with the kids watching television It just wasn't my idea of a good time but I tried to go along with it to make him happy He even complained when I went over to see my mother Hesaid that all I did over there was sit around and criticize him I felt guilty when he said that because it was partly true But I needed someone to talk to Vά felt so isolated since Γd married him Verbal Assaults This set of behavior involves berating belittling criticizing name calling screaming threatening blaming and using sar casm andhumiliation This kind of abuse is extremelydamaging to the victim s self esteem and self image Just as assuredly as physical violence assaults the body verbal abuse assaults the mind and spirit causing wounds that are extremely difficult to

The Emotionally Abused Woman 15 heal Not only is this kind of abuse demeaning but it is frighten ing as well When someone yells at us we become afraid that they may also resort to physical violence Abusive Expectations Here the abuser places unreasonable demands on you and you are expected to put aside everything to satisfy his needs This abuser demonstrates a constant need for your undivided atten tion demands frequent sex or requires you to spend all of your free time with him But no matter how much time or attention you give it is never enough this person can never be pleased because there is always something more you could have done You are subjected to constant criticism and you are constantly berated because you don't fulfill all of this persons needs Melissa's father was extremely emotionally abusive to her when she was a child and because of this she has very little to do with him Whenever she does see him he is suspicious accusa tory and selfish For example as a physician he can well afford to pay her way through college but he refuses to help her out financially in any way Seemingly unaware of how much more difficult it is for young people to make it on their own today he insists that since he was able to work his way through medical school Melissa should be able to maintain an apartment keep up a car and pay her own way through college As if it wasn't bad enough for Melissa to feel abandoned by her father financially he remains very insensitive to how difficult it is for her and makes her feel bad that she isn't able to manage the way he thinks she should During a recent dinner conversation he a$ked her So when are you going to start to college even though he knows that she doesn't have the money to go Melissa answered Proba bly not for a long time I hardly have enough money to get by on much less save for college At this her father became visibly impatient with her and said Oh I get so tired of your crying poor You make a good salary You're just waiting for me to finally break down and foot the bill Well let me tell you some thing sister you can wait until hell freezes over because I will never pay your way through college I had to work my way

16 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns through college and if you have any merit you can do the same There are no free rides After an evening with her father Melissa always ends up doubting herself As hard as she tries she cant help but take in her father's words She thinks to herself Maybe he's right— maybe I am just waiting for him to pay my way Maybe if I really tried I could manage my money better and be able to afford college Emotional Blackmail Emotional blackmail is one of the most powerful ways of manip ulation An emotional blackmailer either consciously or uncon sciously coerces another person into doing what he wants by playing on that persons fear guilt or compassion Women in particular are easily exploited because they tend to place others' wishes and feelings ahead of their own They can be made to feel guilty simply for thinking of their own needs and feelings first You are being emotionally blackmailed when someone threatens to end a relationship if you don't give him what he wants or when someone rejects you or distances himself from you until you give in to his demands If others give you the cold shoulder whenever they are displeased with you threaten to fire you if you don't do what they say or use other fear tactics to get you under control they are using the tactic of emotional blackmail Every time Mandy told her best friend Gloria that she didn't want to do something Gloria became very distant and uncommunicative This would immediately make Mandy un comfortable and she would ask Gloria what was wrong Oh nothing Gloria would answer sighing But Mandy knew that something was wrong and she usually knew that what was wrong was that she hadn't agreed to do what Gloria wanted her to do She resented Gloria's manipulation but she couldn't stand the discomfort and pressure of Gloria's silence Nine times out of ten she'd end up agreeing to do whatever it was that Gloria wanted just to break the silence

The Emotionally Abused Woman 17 Unpredictable Responses In this type of abusive situation the abuser has drastic mood swings or sudden emotional outbursts for no apparent reason or gives inconsistent responses Whenever someone in your life re acts very differently at different times to the same behavior from you tells you one thing one day and the opposite the next or frequently changes his mind liking something you do one day but hating it the next you are being abused with unpredictable responses The reason this behavior is damaging is that it causes you to feel constantly on edge You are always waiting for the other shoe to drop and you can never know what is expected of you You must remain hypervigilant waiting for the abuser's next outburst or change of mood An alcoholic or a drug abuser is likely to be extremely unpredictable exhibiting one personality when sober and a to tally different one when intoxicated or high Living with some one who is like this is tremendously demanding and anxiety provoking causing the abused person to feel constantly fright ened unsettled and off balance Constant Criticism When someone is unrelentingly critical of you always finds fault and can never be pleased it is the insidious nature and cumulative effects of the abuse that do the damage Over time this type of abuse eats away at your self confidence and sense of self worth undermining any good feelings you have about your self and about your accomplishments or achievements Even tually you become convinced that nothing you do is worth while and you may feel likejust giving up Character Assassination Character assassination occurs when someone constantly blows your mistakes out of proportion gossips about your past failures and mistakes and tells lies about you humiliates criticizes or

18 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns makes fun of you in front of others and discounts your achieve ments In addition to the pain this behavior causes you person ally character assassination can ruin your personal and profes sional reputation causing you to lose lovers friends andjobs Amy was in love She was engaged to a man she described as the most wonderful man in the world He was sensitive intelligent and good looking and he loved her madly She couldnt wait to tell her best friend Candice all about him Candice seemed to be as excited about the news as Amy was and she wanted to know all about Amy's fiance Amy felt very fortunate to have such a good friend one who wanted her to be happy Candice said she couldnt wait to meet Brad so Amy arranged for the three of them to get together for dinner the next week They had a wonderful dinner and everyone got along very well But as soon as Amy excused herself to go to the ladies' room Candice told Brad that there were some things about Amy's past that she thought he should know—namely that Amy had been very promiscuous that she had been addicted to co caine and that she had once had an abortion Fortunately Amy had already told Brad about these things He had reassured her that he still loved her and that the past was the past When Brad told Amy later on that night what Candice had done Amy was horrified She couldnt believe that Candice would have tried to ruin her relationship especially since she knew Amy was so happy When Amy confronted Candice about the incident Candice denied ever having said any of those things and instead she accused Brad of trying to make trouble between the two friends Fortunately Amy knew better She had always known Candice was somewhat jealous of her but she never thought she would go to this extreme As far as Amy was concerned this was unfortunately the end of the friendship Gaslighting This term comes from the movie of the same name in which one character uses a variety of insidious techniques to make another character doubt her perceptions her memory and her

The Emotionally Abused Woman 19 very sanity An abuser who does this may continually deny that certain events occurred or that he said something you both know was said or by insinuating that you are exaggerating or lying In this way the abuser may be trying to gain control over you or to avoid responsibility for his own actions Constant Chaos This type of abuse is characterized by continual upheavals and discord The abuser may deliberately start arguments and be in constant conflict with others He is likely to be addicted to drama since creating chaos creates excitement in crisis oriented people Seemingly unable to enjoy harmony and peace the cha otic person bursts out with constant disruptions and negative moods Stellas boss Abby is always in a crisis There is always a job that needs to get out immediately she is always in conflict with one of her employees and she is always upset about money Every week there is a staff meeting in which Abby spouts off about all of the problems in the company making all present fearful of losing their jobs The way she tells it the company is always on the verge of bankruptcy or some other crisis Not surprisingly most of her employees are nervous wrecks because of the tension she creates in the office Sexual Harassment Although this term is used most often with regard to work settings a woman can be sexually harassed by anyone including her husband Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances or physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature When ever a woman is pressured into becoming sexual against her will whether it be because she doesn't choose that person as a sexual partner or because she does not feel like being sexual at the time it is considered sexual harassment In order to be legally considered sexual harassment the con duct must be tied to an employment decision such as hiring or

20 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns promotion or it must interfere with work performance or create a hostile work environment In a recent LA Times article Charles H Goldstein narra tor of a videotape entitled How to Prevent Sexual Harassment Law suits stated that sexual harassment is one of the most serious problems women face in the work force Even off color jokes can constitute sexual harassment Until very recently it was simply considered part of the job to put up with off color or sexist jokes comments about one s body and one's real or imagined sex life and even sexual propositions Women often felt that if they did not at least tolerate such over tures they might lose their jobs As Mr Goldstein explains Although sexual harassment has been outlawed in many places some people regard the laws as unfair restrictions on fellows who are just out to make a joke or have a good time Women who bring charges of sexual harassment against their employers are often regarded as bitches who are out to cramp men's style Olivia is a very attractive mother of three who is the sole support of her family She worked long and hard to get her real estate license and she was finally accepted into a prestigious real estate office When she was hired the owner of the office George promised that if she did well he would let more and more of the bigger accounts list with her When George told her he felt she would do well given that she was so attractive she just let the remark go she was used to having people make such comments But it wasn't long before George started making sexual advances toward her Because he did this in a breezy way that could be interpreted as 'just kid ding Olivia responded in kind turning him down in a joking way But George mistook her joking for encouragement He began to get bolder and bolder making overtly sexual remarks and putting his arm around her whenever he got a chance Olivia didn't want to offend George because she knew he was the one who determined what listings she got so she continued to brush him off in a casual joking kind of way At the staff Christmas party George cornered Olivia in the back of the office held some mistletoe over her head and in sisted on a kiss Feeling in the Christmas spirit she gave him a quick kiss and tried to slip away But George wasn't go ing to let her go so easily He grabbed her and held her so

The Emotionally Abused Woman 21 tightly she couldn't get away and he started rubbing his body up against hers and trying to touch her breasts Luckily another staff member walked into the room just then and George let Olivia go After this Olivia was really in a quandary It was getting so that she was afraid to be around George because she thought he might make more advances But because he was giving her some good accounts and promising to give her more she convinced herself that she could handle George and that it was worth fend ing him off if it meant becoming successful Unfortunately Olivia didn't realize how much George's sex ual harassment was damaging her She began to have frequent nightmares in which she was trapped pinned down or raped The nightmares frightened her so much that she developed insom nia and she also became more and more afraid to be alone with a man Finally in desperation Olivia started therapy Not only did she not link her symptoms to what was happening at work but she did not even realize she was being sexually harassed These insights led to still further ones most notably that she had been sexually abused as a child by a teacher When she became aware that she was being abused by George in much the same way as she had been by her teacher she realized the importance of quit ting herjob We are all guilty of committing many of the above acts our selves from time to time as well as experiencing them from other people who are not generally abusive When a relationship is not going well there is usually a great deal of arguing and bickering and either or both parties may resort to name calling criticizing and other behaviors that they normally would not be involved in But there is a vast difference between name calling or criticizing in the heat of an argument and doing so on a day to day basis Similarly constant complaining is not necessarily emo tionally abusive unless it is destructive and the intent is to make the other person feel bad For example a husband who com plains that the house isn't clean isn't necessarily being emotionally abusive But if he constantly tells his wife that she is bad lazy inconsiderate selfish and so on because she does not clean the house then he is being abusive

22 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns True emotional abuse is distinguished by the following D It is constant as opposed to occasional D The intent is to devalue and denigrate rather than to simply state a complaint D The intent is to dominate and control rather than to provide constructive criticism D The person has an overall attitude of disrespect toward you rather than just not liking something specific that you are doing WHO ARE THE EMOTIONAL ABUSERS Emotionally Abusive Lovers and Mates Emotionally abusive lovers and mates can cause tremendous damage to a woman's ego They have our trust our vulnerability our hearts and our bodies Using a variety of tactics an abusive husband or lover can damage a woman's self esteem make her doubt her desirability and hate her body and break her heart It is incredibly painful to come to the recognition that some one you love and want desperately to believe loves you in return could actually be abusing you Because of the feelings you have for him it is especially difficult to recognize that you may be emotionally abused by your husband or lover When we love someone we tend to make excuses for his behavior we always want to give him the benefit of the doubt This is especially true when the other person is good to us in other ways This was the case with Samantha I knew my husband was critical of me but he could also be so good to me No one ever treated me as well as he did when things were going his way But when he was under pressure at work he was horrible to me He berated me constantly finding fault in everything I did I became a nervous wreck waiting for the next round of complaints My opinion of myself became so low that 1 actually

The Emotionally Abused Woman 23 considered suicide When he wasn't under pressure he treated me like a queen and I felt great about myself about him and about our marriage Answering the following questions will help you to deter mine whether or not you are in an emotionally abusive love relationship A yes answer to even half of these questions indicates that you are in an emotionally abusive love relationship D Do you feel like a child in the relationship having to ask permission and apologizing for your behavior Do you feel powerless and less than your lover or mate D Have you stopped seeing your friends and family Does your lover or husband criticize your friends and family members Did he complain so much when you saw them in the past that you finally stopped seeing them altogether so you wouldn't have to argue with him about it Are you ashamed to see your friends or family because of your mates abusive behavior and because you're embarrassed at having put up with so much from him D Do you believe that you are to blame for your husband's or lovers problems Do you feel you are mostly responsible for the problems with the relationship D Does your mate try to take advantage of you sexually or make unreasonable sexual demands on you D Does your lovers personality change when he drinks alcohol D Does your mate use humor to put you down or degrade you D Does he lack the ability to laugh at himself D Does he find it hard to apologize or to admit when he is wrong Does he make excuses for his behavior or always blame others for his actions D Does he usually get his way in deciding when and where the two of you will go D Does he control or disapprove of your spending but seem to have no problems spending on himself

24 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns Emotionally Abusive Bosses Bosses and other authority figures can influence a woman's career and her very livelihood Because of this we tend to put up with behavior in work situations that we otherwise would not toler ate As mentioned earlier this is especially true with single mothers who must rely on their jobs to support not only them selves but their children as well Even the most assertive of women will be reluctant to confront a boss about his or her abusive behavior when it may mean risking her children's security There is a vast difference between having a disagreeable boss one who is sometimes difficult to deal with and having an abusive one Emotionally abusive bosses use their power and position to behave in totally unacceptable ways They may be come verbally abusive overly demanding or critical or make improper sexual advances Their most powerful weapon is emo tional blackmail They may threaten you with the loss of your job with a poor evaluation or with the withholding of a raise or promotion The basic message is You do what I say or else Some hold out a carrot of promotions bonuses and so on in order to keep their employees working for them even when the conditions are horribly oppressive It is not a coincidence of course that many bosses have a need to dominate and control other people Because they have a need to have control over others some people naturally gravitate to positions of authority This is not to say that all bosses are emotionally abusive but that for some having power is a license to be abusive One of the ways that male bosses abuse their power is by sexually harassing their female employees Both men and women can be abusive bosses There are misogynists of both sexes and bosses of either sex mUy feel threatened by female employees who are bright and ambitious Jealous bosses may do everything in their power to sabotage the employee's success While female bosses can be emotionally abusive in many of the same ways that male bosses are the reasons are sometimes different Some female bosses have an excessive need to have control over other women They relish being the boss or au

The Emotionally Abused Woman 25 thority in charge of other women and they often abuse this authority Other female bosses may have a deep distrust of other women and may believe—ironically enough—that women just can't do thejob Such women tend not to hire other women for positions of power or to recognize the achievements of those who do work for them Emotionally Abusive Coworkers Although to a lesser degree than bosses coworkers can also damage a woman's career In fact a great deal of our success or failure at work can often be attributed to whether or not we are accepted and respected by our coworkers Coworkers have been known to sabotage another employee's career by spreading nasty rumors about her in the office by taking credit for her work by complaining about her to the boss by stealing her customers and by turning others against her Coworkers can of course be male or female and both sexes can be emotionally abusive But surprisingly most of my female clients have complained of being emotionally abused more by their female coworkers and recent research shows that males actually tend to be more supportive and encouraging of their female coworkers than females are The following situation is unfortunately not an uncommon example of what can happen when female coworkers become threatened by another woman's success Dana was a very attractive intelligent young woman who was tremendously motivated to become successful Only twenty four years old she was already the office manager for a large corporation Because she was so pretty and young the older women Under her were tremendously threatened by her so much so that they secretly began a campaign to get her fired They started refusing to follow her orders and they then spread the word throughout the office that she was an unreasonable tyrant who demanded much too much of them There was so much disruption in the office that the head of personnel finally began to interview each employee to discover

26 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns the cause of the difficulty One by one each woman in the office reported that working under Dana was a hardship because she was so demanding In the end Dana was asked to leave the company even though she tried desperately to convince person nel that herjob had been sabotaged It was this devastating event that brought Dana into my office She blamed herself for what had happened thinking that somehow she had brought all this on herself As we unraveled her history we discovered that this kind of thing had happened to Dana quite a lot as a child and young adult starting with her experience with an overly competitive mother Dana learned that because of her previous experiences she viewed all women as potential abusers and kept herself alienated from them This left a false impression of her being snobbish when in actuality the opposite was true—she longed for other women to like her She realized that she would have to try hard to befriend other women since many would assume she was conceited because of her aloof manner combined with her looks and intelligence Emotionally Abusive Parents Parents more than anyone else in a woman's life have the ability and opportunity to emotionally devastate her Any parent can be emotionally abusive and in fact most parents are from time to time But the emotional abuse that we are referring to is not the occasional oversight not the sporadic incidence of a parent be coming angry distant or tense with their child We are talking about habitual behavior and patterns of interacting with children that cause permanent damage It has been said that a girls mother will be the most impor tant person in her life She will certainly be the most influential From her mother a girl will learn safety or fear to love herself or to hate herself to value others or take others for granted From her mother she will learn to be intimate or detached possessive or freedom giving And from her mother she will learn to be a mother herself Most important if a child's first intimate contact with another human being is emotionally abusive in nature it

The Emotionally Abused Woman 27 will set the stage for all her future relationships The nature of the mother child bond will be the blueprint upon which all her future relationships will be drawn A girl's first perception of the opposite sex comes from her experience with her father From this all important relationship she develops her expectations of how a male should behave since her father becomes her unconscious model for all future roman tic encounters A girl's father provides her with her first love relationship with a man and it is vital that she feel her father's unconditional acceptance If her father is emotionally abusive she will in turn expect other important men in her life to be the same To develop self assurance a daughter needs to feel that her father accepts her and sees her as an attractive person both out side and inside This provides the basis for her confidence as a woman and allows her to realize she is worthwhile and that in future relationships with men she should be respected When a father gives his daughter the feeling that she is unattractive ei ther because he ignores her is critical of her or because he abandons her he is paving the way for her to gravitate toward masochistic relationships where she will be treated poorly and without respect Emotionally Abusive Siblings A woman's relationship with her siblings can be either a very positive or an extremely negative influence on her life Unfor tunately all too often a woman's sibling may be her first emo tional abuser So called sibling rivalry that begins in childhood often continues well into adulthood While it is natural for sib lings to compare themselves with one another and to feel com petitive sometimes what passes for sibling rivalry is actually emotional abuse Such a situation existed between Fran and her younger sister Barbara Fran had always been jealous of Barbara Barbara was more outgoing and more popular and unlike Fran she didn't have a weight problem Life seemed to be so much easier for Barbara She always had boyfriends seemed to sail through school and

28 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns landed a great job right out of college Fran on the other hand was a wallflower had to work hard just to pass her classes and later drifted aimlessly from onejob to another The final blow to Fran was when Barbara happily married for two years had a beautiful baby daughter Fran loved children and wanted a family more than anything but the men she at tracted always seemed to be losers Barbara was very aware that she had been the fortunate one in the family and she felt bad for Fran because she knew she wasn't happy She tried to make it up to Fran by trying to be a really loving sister and she included Fran in her life as much as possible But it never seemed to be enough—Fran always had a complaint about not being invited to Barbaras house enough or about not getting to see the baby as often as she wanted Fran didn't even attempt to hide the fact that she was desper atelyjealous of Barbara She constantly made remarks about how good Barbara had it and she insinuated that she didn't deserve what she had Whenever Barbara invited Fran to any of her social gatherings Fran would always make a point of demeaning Bar bara in front of her guests saying such things as I guess when you're born with a silver spoon in your mouth you think you deserve the best of everything or Some of us have had to work for what we have while others havejust had it handed to them Barbara was terribly hurt by these remarks because she really loved her sister and even admired her But as time went on and Fran became more frustrated with her own life her remarks became more and more cruel Barbara tried reasoning with Fran but it was to no avail She didnt want to stop inviting Fran to her home because she knew it would hurt her sister a lot She just didnt know what to do She finally realized that unless the two of them got help they would have to stop seeing each other She asked Fran to go into therapy with her To her surprise Fran agreed and the sis ters were able to work things out Emotionally Abusive Friends Since we rely on our friends for honest feedback support and companionship they have a tremendous influence on us If they

The Emotionally Abused Woman 29 disapprove of us of our choices in partners or of our job or career choices they can influence our feelings about these things Even if we disagree with a friend's opinion we usually assume that she has our best interests at heart But what if she doesn't What if she is operating out of envy orjealousy or even out of a need to destroy us Dees best friend Lucy was extremely jealous of her but Dee didn't realize it Because she felt so close to Lucy she trusted her judgment and motivation Unbeknownst to Dee Lucy tried to undermine her at every turn She talked Dee out of going to night school by telling her that it was stupid since it would take her forever to get a college degree that way In actuality Lucy was envious of Dees intellect and motivation When Dee told Lucy she was thinking about asking for a raise Lucy once again talked her out of it After all if Dee got a raise she'd be making more than Lucy And whenever Dee became attracted to a man Lucy always found something wrong with him She didn't want Dee to have a boyfriend if she didn't TAKING STEPS TOWARD RECOVERY Because of the undermining nature of emotional abuse because it tears down your self esteem and causes you to doubt yourself and your perceptions you will undoubtedly continue to question whether or not you are actually being emotionally abused You may sometimes think that you arejust feeling sorry for yourself or that you are making a big deal out of nothing Even if you are able to hold on to the fact that you are indeed being emotionally abused you may still believe that you deserve to be treated in an abusive manner Your abusive mate might tell you that he wouldn't get so angry with you if he didnt love you so much Your abusive boss might apologize for yelling at you but at the same time excuse his behavior by telling you that he wouldn't get so angry with you if you tried harder or listened to his instruc tions better It is important for you to understand that an emo tional abuser will always blame his victim for his abusiveness and will always have an excuse for his behavior If you are being emotionally abused by someone or if you recognize that you have established a pattern of consistently

30 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns being mistreated and disrespected by others help is available This book will take you step by step through the recovery pro cess It will help you to D recognize the roots of your problem D decide whether you should leave your relationship D raise your self esteem so that you will not continue to allow others to abuse you D change your negative patterns and break the cycle of abuse once and for all

Types of Emotionally Abused Women While all emotionally abused women share many of the same characteristics their personality traits can differ Identifying which type of emotionally abused woman you are will help you in several ways It will help you to recognize how and why you allow others to abuse you It will also help you to understand why you have a tendency to choose a particular type of abusive person to get involved with and will thus help you to avoid this type of person in the future Last but certainly not least identi fying the type of emotionally abused person you are will help you to focus on what you need to do to avoid future abuse Even though you may find that you identify with more than one of the following categories of emotionally abused women there is probably one you relate to most THE SELFLESS WOMAN The selfless woman is one with a very shaky sense of identity Because her mother was either too smothering and controlling and didn't allow her to separate from her or because her mother was rejecting and abandoning and didn't provide adequate nur turing the selfless woman did not develop a strong identity and sense of self In her book Sweet Suffering Woman As Victim Natalie Shai ness recognizes that an overprotective mother can be extremely detrimental to her child 31

32 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns An overprotective mother binds her child to her by refus ing to allow the child to move away from her Unable to recog nize the separateness of her daughter unable to acknowledge the boundaries between them such a mother refuses to let the child develop her own thoughts and perceptions This symbiotic rela tionship breeds passivity and a sense of inadequacy in the child Some mothers themselves deprived of necessary nurturing and care when they were children are incapable of being what psychoanalyst D W Winnicott calls good enough mothers to their children The good enough mother is there for her child both physically and emotionally providing continuity respond ing readily to her child and believing from the start that her baby exists in her own right Without good enough mothering a child is deprived of the very foundation upon which it can build a self To overcome her indistinct and mostly negative self image the selfless woman may take on the personality identity or appearance of another person She often suffers from chronic feelings of emptiness depression and helplessness A selfless woman usually has an extraordinary sensitivity to real or imag ined rejection and while she can be clingy and possessive at times she can also be very rejecting of others This is because she both craves and fears intimacy She fears both being abandoned and being smothered—the latter coming from her fear of losing what little self she has Needless to say this makes it difficult for her to maintain stable relationships since she frequently gives mixed messages Come here—go away Romantic attachments for the selfless woman are highly charged filled with turbulence and rage and they are usually short lived Although she feels continually victimized by others this woman continues to desperately seek out new relationships because for her being alone feels more intolerable than mis treatment Because of her deep self loathing the selfless woman dis trusts others' expressions of caring She often pursues those who are inaccessible and runs away if her overtures are accepted She seldom learns from past mistakes Since she doesn't of ten observe patterns in her own behavior she tends to repeat de structive relationships For example a selfless woman will often

Types of Emotionally Abused Women 33 return to an abusive ex husband who will proceed to abuse her again No matter what others do to hurt or betray her she keeps forgiving them believing that they have finally learned their lesson and are going to change She may decide never to seean abusive person again after he has finally done something so hor rible to her that even she has to admit it is unacceptable But before long she has allowed herself to be charmed back into believing in theperson again Shehas convinced herself that this time heis truly sorry that hehaschanged Cheryl's description of herself is a classic portrait of the selfless woman I don't know who I am I'm like a chameleon—I change according to who Γm around When Γm around my friend Marsha I become very quiet like her But when I'm around Penny I laugh and joke a lot because she's so outgoing I even take on my friends' gestures and facialexpressions I do the same thing when Γm involved with a man I become whatever the man Γm involved with wants me to be If he wants me to be a sex kitten that's who I am If he wants a drinking buddy that's me If he wants someone to control I let him control me Then when the relationship is over I don't even have myself to come back to Γm always trying to figure out what other people want from me in order to be accepted by them I am seldom myself because I assume others wouldn't like me if I were Sometimes I wish I could just be totally alone and not have to bother with other people but Γm afraid to be alone The following questions may further help you decide ifyou are a selfless woman D Doyou tend to blame yourself when things go wrong D If you make a mistake do you see yourself as all bad D Do you try to anticipate what others want or how they want you toact G Do you placate others or try to buy them in an attempt to keep harm atbay

34 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns D Do you have a difficult time with change D Does taking risks make you feel frightened or apprehensive D Do you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse eating disorders sexual promiscuity compulsive gambling or shopping shoplifting self mutilation or suicide attempts D Do you often have violent outbursts of rage THE PLEASER Pleasers are always trying to keep everyone happy Their motto is Peace at any price and the price they pay is often damage to their self esteem They want to keep everything smooth and on an even keel and they often sacrifice their own happiness in the process These women learned to be pleasers when they were little girls often because their mothers modeled this behavior Brought up in an atmosphere in which they were made to feel inferior and unworthy simply because they were female they now have a strong need to be good girls so that men will approve of them They are obedient to authority figures— especially men—and they basically believe that most people are better than they are In addition children who are deprived often feel so insig nificant and worthless that they feel they need to justify their existence by becoming a source of help to their parents Such children begin a lifelong pattern of pleasing others as a way of proving that they are worth keeping around Many pleasers were raised by parents who expected perfec tion from them and who put a lot of pressure on them to per form Because of this as adults they seldom feel they are worth much or that they are really appreciated valued or loved for themselves Instead they believe they have to earn others' accep tance and love They believe that they count only when they are making others happy or doing everything perfectly Pleasers want everyone to like them and to approve of what they do Kay is a typical pleaser Her entire life is centered around her husband and her two children Raised in a very traditional family where she was taught that a woman's purpose was to please her

Types of Emotionally Abused Women 35 husband her only ambition as a young girl was to become a wife and mother She was married at nineteen and she had had both of her children by the time she was twenty one Although she says her greatest pleasure is in pleasing her family she is also becoming more and more dissatisfied with her life Kay told me I do everything to please my husband and children The problem is that no matter what I do they never seem satisfied I give and give but it is never enough I get tired of it sometimes but mostly I feel so satisfied when I know I've pleased them that it's all worth it For Kay pleasing her husband includes having sex with him whenever he wants it even though she seldom enjoys it He really isn't a good lover He's just concerned with satisfying him self I resent this sometimes and I have tried talking to him about what I need but he just doesn't seem to listen So I have sex just to please him so he'll be happy While Kay makes her husband and family her top priority her husband neglects her severely He isn't an affectionate man In fact he doesn't really ever touch me unless he wants sex He never has a kind word to say to me although I know he loves me I just wish he would tell me once in a while thatI have done something that pleased him or that he appreciates all I do for him While the pleaser may get depressed frustrated or angry at times because of the way she is treated she continues to put up with the most abusive treatment She often rationalizes that things could be worse She makes excuses for her abusers' scorn bad tempers or lack of consideration or else she convinces her self that she can change them Even if she knows that an abuser is wrong she will take the blame and apologize because this will at least keep the peace In order to be accepted or loved she will even apologize for perfectly appropriate behavior on her part

36 Understanding Your Destructive Patterns You may be a pleaser if you answer yes to many of the fol lowing questions D Do you feel that you count only when you are taking care of others D Do you feel that you can't do most things right D Are you always saying I should have or I ought to D Do you have a difficult time saying no D Do your husband and children always know how to make you feel guilty G Do you often pretend to be enjoying yourself when you're not D Do you often fake it telling others that you like or ap prove of what they are doing or saying when you don't D Are you nice to other people because you hope they'll be nice to you in return THE SINNER The sinner has many of the same qualities as the pleaser How ever the sinner also suffers from intense feelings of guilt and shame which play an important role in her motivation to please The sinner always feels responsible always believes that it's my fault Often this tendency to blame herself comes from her having been severely criticized as a child Constantly apologiz ing she obsesses about if only —if only she had done some thing differently if only she'd said the right thing Frequently sinners were victims of either overt or emotional sexual abuse as children Made to feel dirty shameful and bad as adults they carry their guilt and shame around as though these were scarlet letters Because she feels guilty about real or imag ined past mistakes the sinner is often plagued with the belief that she doesn't really deserve to be treated well respected or loved and that she needs to suffer in order to atone for her sins Sinners may feel guilty worthless and bad because as

Types of Emotionally Abused Women 37 children they were given the message that there was something inherently wrong with them In addition parents who are rigidly religious often give their children heavy doses of guilt and make them believe they are sinners for not always obeying and honoring their parents Sinners also believe that bad things only happen to bad people When something bad does happen to them they believe that they must have deserved it or it wouldn't have happened Katie was raised by a hypercritical mother who made her feel as though she were to blame for all of her mother's problems Born out of wedlock Katie always knew she wasn't wanted and she felt that if it weren't for her birth her mother would have not had to marry her abusive alcoholic father Nothing I ever did was right I was constantly ridiculed for my be havior and lectured to about what a bad child I was My mother seemed to assume that I should already know the proper way to conduct myself at all times and she was very impatient with me for making even the slightest mistake Whenever I did something wrong she assumed it was intentional and accused me of deliberately trying to make her miserable I grew up with a terrible case of guilt and this carried over into my relationship with my husband—who by the way is just like my mother He blamed me for everything and be cause I felt guilty for just breathing I always took the blame Sinners tend to D get involved with those who are cruel uncaring and abusive D suffer intense feelings of self loathing D feel they must pay for their past sins D be unable to forgive themselves for past mistakes D be self denigrating and self critical D always blame themselves for whatever goes wrong Trudy is a typical sinner This is how she describes her relationship with her husband who is extremely emotionally abusive

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