Gas-lighting: Psychological Warfare

Gas-lighting: Psychological Warfare

I had never heard of the term gas-lighting until I was in a tumultuous relationship with a woman with borderline personality order who accused me of gas-lighting.   At the time I asked her what it meant and she told me to look it up, so I did and the more I read about it and researched it, the more I realized she was the gas-lighter and I was the one being gas-lighted!

What Is Gas-lighting?

Gas-lighting is a deceptive and insidious form of control and manipulation. The name comes for the 1938 play, Gas Light. People who are being gas-lighted are deceived into doubting what they know to be true through the use of false information. These victims end up doubting their memories, feelings, perceptions and nearly everything about themselves, including their own sanity. Overtime, the gas-lighter’s manipulation tactics become more complex making it harder for the victim to recognize and avoid. If this sounds like psychological warfare, that’s because it is.

Gas-lighting is most common and noticeable in intimate relationships, but they can happen in professional relationships as well. Gas-lighters are usually charming at first and often have personality disorders such as narcissism or borderline.  Many sociopaths and addicts are skilled gas-lighters as well.

Gas-lighters attack their victims most sensitive areas: their sense of identity and self-worth. Through my research and interviews with clients who were in toxic relationships, I found that it was common for gas-lighters to show one face to their victim and another to the rest of the world, making it hard for their victim to reach out to others in fear that no one will believe them.

In it’s most basic form, gas-lighting can be seen as projection taken to it’s highest level. The gas-lighter needs to create a certain reality by attempting to shape the reality of the person being gas-lighted. They will change facts in-order to create a new narrative more suitable for themselves and disregard their victims reality.

Gas-Lighting Can Be Used To Manipulate A Whole Society

Gas-lighting not only happens in day to day relationships, but historically has and is happening in a greater context. Think about how the narrative around Thanksgiving downplays the genocide of Native Americans, or how many American History books brush over the horrific slavery of and treatment of African Americans. Cultural appropriation and white-washing are both ways experiences and realities of others are overwritten, manipulated and downplayed. It happens so much in our society through the use of media and stereotypes that’s it’s not easily recognized, but is just as damaging to those who are the victims of gas-lighting.

I once read a book called Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority, that in many ways detailed how American Society has been gas-lighted to perceive African Americans a certain way.

My Personal Experience

One example from my personal situation is that the person I was dating continuously disrespected our relationship by flirting with other guys. Even other people who knew us would come and tell me and it became embarrassing. When I would talk to her about it she would accuse me of being insecure, other people of manipulating me and accusing me of looking at other women.

It got so bad that I started questioning if I was insecure, if other people were trying to sabotage our relationship and although I had never been accused of having wandering eyes before, I started to doubt that as well. I started becoming more aware of my behavior and attempting to never even look in another woman’s direction. I started becoming paranoid and questioning things my friends were telling me about her. I started to doubt myself so much that I became oblivious to the ways she was continuously and increasingly disrespecting me and our relationship.

That’s what gas-lighting does. It makes you start questioning your own reality to the point where you don’t trust what you know to be true.

How I ended up overcoming this was through some deep introspection and awareness. First,  thanks to her accusing me of gas-lighting (the gas-lighter often accuses their victim of being the gas-lightee), I became aware that I was actually being psychologically manipulated.

I had to regain trust in my own sense of self and judgement and realize that I wasn’t crazy and that my eyes and heart weren’t deceiving me. I had to find a way to separate myself from her and see the truth for what it was and once I did that, it was like someone had turned the lights on in a dark room and allowed me to see everything. I had to take back my power and it’s then when I decided to leave because I knew she wasn’t going to change and the new “woke” me, couldn’t stay in that toxic relationship and keep my sanity.

Despite the fact that I knew I had to leave, it still took multiple attempts before I was able to walk away for good. Toxic relationships are usually hard to leave and take several attempts.  During that time I did reach out to friends for support and I continued to read articles and books that opened my eyes and made me strong enough to eventually leave for good.

-T.R. LMHC

6 Ways To Take Control Of Your Life

6 Ways To Take Control Of Your Life

Sometimes life can make you feel like a rag doll being tossed around from one crisis to the next, one situation to the next and even one emotion to the next.

In this new year, it’s time we finally start taking real control over our lives. The way we do this starts with making a shift within ourselves.

We have to realize that we are in control. That we are unique individuals here to serve a purpose and we all have special talents and gifts to offer the world. We all deserve happiness and success and we can’t depend on anything or anyone outside of us to provide that.

We have to take control of our thoughts, emotions and actions.

I’m never going to pretend to have all the answers or to be someone who has no problems. I have lots of them, trust me. However, I’m on a constant quest to change my life for the better. Sometimes that means taking inventory on my thoughts and feelings and shifting them so that a five minute incident doesn’t ruin the next sixty plus minutes of my day. Sometimes that means truly apologizing for something once I’ve stop trying to justify it and realize I was in the wrong.  Other times that means letting go of whatever is holding me emotionally hostage (fear, anxiety, etc.).

The way I do that isn’t always fast and easy, but for the most part it is effective and becomes easier and easier to do. It’s like a switch that goes off. A shift in thought and emotions so that I don’t continue to go down the same path feel irritable, angry, sad, self-doubting.

Anyone can do this and here are six tips to help you start shifting your mind whenever you want to:

 

  1. Stay optimistic. I know sometimes that is easier said then done, especially when you are surrounded by so much negativity in the world, but once you start feeding into the negativity, it’s hard to see anything positive that comes your way. You have to remember that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. We create so much of what’s around us and if we are focused on the negative, we will bring more negativity. If we focus on the positive, we’re more likely to bring more positivity into our lives or at least see opportunity in difficulty.
  2. Be happy! Yes, this too I know can be hard and sometimes we have to work really hard on being happy, but just like optimism, the more you exude happiness, the more likely you are to feel and stay genuinely happy.  Force yourself to smile. Force yourself to be positive and before you know it, you will feel better and draw to you energy that will bring about genuine happiness.
  3. Realize your strengths and utilize them. We all have strengths, but sometimes we focus so much on our weaknesses that we downplay or outright forget about our strengths. When we start focusing on our strengths and looking for opportunities to use them, not only will we fell better, we’ll actually grow stronger within our natural gifts and talents.
  4. You’re not going to please everyone. Some people just won’t like you no matter what you do so stop worrying about them, trying to win them over or searching for their approval. It’s a waste of time. Instead, focus on people who do like you and perhaps those who don’t like you will come around. Even if they don’t, who cares?
  5. Stay away from negative people. We all emit energy, just like the sun. Some days it’s positive, some days it’s negative. However, some people emit way more negative energy than positive energy. Stay away from those people, all they will do is bring you down and cast a dark shadow over your life.
  6. You’re never alone. Sure there will be times when you feel lonely, or like you’re the only one going through something, but remember, you are never truly alone unless you want to be, and that’s okay too. Sometimes we need solitude and there is a difference between solitude and loneliness. When you start thinking you’re all alone that opens the door to all type of \emotional reactions such as depression and desperation as well as poor choices to fill the void.

 

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Sometimes when I am struggling, reflecting on messages that were sent to me like this one helps shift my thoughts and mood and reminds me that I am in control of how I choose to experience whatever is going on around me.

I’m not saying any of this is easy. Sometimes It’s downright hard to attempt to be positive and happy and some times will be harder than others. However, we don’t have to be lead by the world, other people or even our own emotions and negative self talk. We can take control and steer our lives into the direction we want to go even with whatever roadblocks, detours and traffic jam life throws at us.

 

 

Embracing Your Inner Power

istock dollar inner childSometimes you just have one of those days where it seems like the sun isn’t shining on you. In that darkness it’s easy to beat yourself up over the past and become anxious and negative about the future.

I’ve been there. It used to happen to me a lot actually and sometimes it still does. In the past, I dealt with those days the only ways I knew how which were becoming cling, needy, depressed and anxious. All maladaptive coping mechanisms I had picked up sometime during my life.

In return, I found myself trying to control other people and situations. Wanting people to do what I wanted them to do, think what I wanted them to think and feel the way I wanted them to feel. This rarely worked out in my favor. Usually the people I was trying to control either pulled away or responded negatively which in the end only made me feel worse.

Even when I did get what I thought I wanted, I usually still felt empty and overtime I realize the reason I still felt empty was because the real issue was within me and I couldn’t fix that with people or things.

I realized overtime and from doing therapy clients who suffering from anxiety, depression, and anger issues, that people and things do not stop our pain or move us to a better place. Only we can do that for ourselves.

We are the only ones who have the inner-power to end our suffering and angst. Sure sometimes we need the help of our support systems and/or our spiritual beliefs, but all change truly begins within us. That is when we truly heal and move beyond that pain and darkness.

Once we dig into and heal ourselves, peace, love and trust will return to use easier and quicker than we thought. Trust me. I’ve been there time and time again and it never fails. Our past neurotic attempt to bring back balance and peace to our universe happens much more naturally when it comes from within.

We have to deal with our feelings and accept them as ours. We have to stop our need to control. Peace, love and happiness will return. Remember, a bad day is just a bad day and we don’t have to make it last any longer than absolutely necessary.

I’m not saying it’s easy to stop the pain and anxiety when it comes rushing in. Sometimes even for myself today it takes a moment for me to recognize it, stop from going to my default maladaptive coping mechanisms, and reach inside my own inner-power, but I am better at it today than I was yesterday and will be better at it tomorrow than I am today. That’s all I ask of myself and all I ask of you.

We are much more powerful than we believe we are! We can control not only our thoughts and feeling, but our destinies! We have to learn to harness and embrace our inner power.

It doesn’t matter if you have anger issues, depression, low-self-esteem, whatever it is. The faster you realize you have all the control and no need to try to control other people or situations, the faster you will have the strength to overcome any obstacle that’s in your way, even if that obstacle is yourself.

 

Know Yourself: Don’t Let Other People Define You

mirror-istockMany times I talk about the importance of self-awareness, defining who you are, knowing who you are and just as importantly, knowing who you are not. People will always try to define you and put you in a box based on their own perceptions of reality, even when those perceptions are false or misconstrued.

People will try to define you based on obvious things such as race, gender, nationality, weight, the way you dress, the way you talk, how much money you make, education, etc. People will also try to define you based on their prejudices and past experiences.

For example, a man who grew up watching his mother bring men in and out of the house may not only define his mother as a whore, but may go on to infer that all women are whores and therefore treat every woman he comes in contact with as if she were a whore, even when she is not.

That means that this guy will never trust a woman, even if he is in the best relationship possible, he will always be looking for evidence that supports his theory that she is a whore, while almost always ignoring evidence that proves otherwise. He will always accuse her of cheating, of wanting to cheat, and will always be suspicious to the point that he will never allow himself to be happy in the relationship and will either leave after convincing himself that she is a whore or will push her away when she can’t take it any more. The sad part is, he’ll probably even then rationalize to himself that the reason she left was because she was a whore.

**On a side note: Numerous serial killers had “loose” mothers and ended up killing women that they perceived as sluts and whores (prostitutes and women they could pick up in bars) because they reminded them of their mother.***

People do this all the time and it’s largely unconcious and that is how stereotypes not only develop, but get maintained. They will assume that a particular group is lazy, or a particular sex is weak and even when they are faced with evidence that disproves this, they will still only see what they want to see.

Richard Sherman

I wasn’t going to get into the whole Richard Sherman conversation that has been going on around the country and in the media, simply because I thought it was pretty well covered. For those of you who don’t know, Richard Sherman is a professional football player for the Seattle Seahawks who in an interview two weeks ago after a big win, made some colorful statements that didn’t include any profanity, but left many in the national media and across the country, labeling him as a “thug”. Why? Because apparently after just one interview people felt like they knew Richard Sherman enough to define him as a thug. Besides, he kind of “fit the description” being that he is Black, has dreadlocks is full of testosterone and embodies everything mainstream America has defined as dangerous and “thuggish”.

This despite the fact that Richard Sherman has no criminal record, graduated from high school 2nd in his class with a 4.2 GPA and graduated from Stanford with a high GPA. The people who were calling him a thug don’t know all of this. All they know is the quick glimpse they got and felt like it was enough to define him. Even more sad is, that some of those who called him a thug who have since learned that he doesn’t qualify to be called a thug, will still consider him to be a thug because they want to place him in a box that matches their perceived reality of what and who a thug is.

Why all of this is important is because everyday we are being defined by people as broad as the media and society to as small as our coworkers and neighbors, right down to as intimate as our family and romantic partners. When you aren’t anchored in knowing who we are and who we are not, it’s easy to get confused and to even start playing into other peoples definitions and perceptions of who we are and from there, we can get lost and find it difficult to get back to “the real us”.

As adults this may seem unlikely, but it happens more often then you realize and usually without us knowing it right away. It’s even more dangerous when we talk about children who are still very early in the process of not only trying to definte themselves, but also trying to understand themselves.

For example, as a kid in elementary school I was told that boys weren’t as smart as girls. I was told that boys weren’t supposed to do good in school. So guess what? I didn’t do good in school, I did the bare minimum. I let that definition stick with me all the way until I was halfway through high school when I learned that it was “cool” for guys to be smart and then I had to unlearn that definition of myself. However, many boys get this same message passed on to them, especially boys of color in the inner-city and they never learn to redefine themselves and unlearn that message. The damage may be so detrimental that they may never learn to redefinte themselves.

I used to tell the inner-city teenagers I worked with that it was absolutely paramount that they define themselves and know themselves because if they didn’t, society would come up with a definition for them and if they didn’t know better, they would unwittingly settle into the role that was laid out for them. Society would see them as thugs, as whores, as future leeches of society and would treat them that way if they didn’t define themselves and stand strong in knowing who they are despite the pressures around them to be what other people want them to be.

Some teenage girls I worked with wanted to go to college, or graduate from high school, but no one else in their family did so they often weren’t supported, sometimes even encouraged to drop out so they could work or baby sit their mothers (or sisters, or cousins) kids. They were even told that they wouldn’t be anything because no one else in their family was. These girls had to remain strong and learn to define themselves and their reality, despite the pressures to succumb to everyone elses definition of who they were and who they were going to be.

People will tell you over and over again who they think you are. Some will say it blatantly, most will do it subjectively, but if you allow it, it will slowly and surely start to move you away from your center, from your core definition of who you are and move you further into someone elses perceived reality of what they think you are instead of your reality of who you really are.

I included a TEDs talk by Tony Porter called A Call To Men because he talks about how men are forced into a box, the same box that society has tried to force me and most men into. It is generally ten times easier to just go along with other peoples definition of who they think you are and should be then to actually go against the grain and stand strong in your self definiton.

Acceptance

leisure-woman-mdnI’ve learned a lot from counseling other people and personal experience that a lot of anxiety and grief comes from refusing to accept reality.

A lot of times our perceptions or what we want things to be are out of line with reality. When we fight against that and refuse to accept to see things the way they are, it can create a lot of anxiety, depression, anger and neurotic behaviors. Ignoring reality keeps us stuck and doesn’t allow us to move on so that we can create and live a better, happier life.

We sometimes get stuck in relationships with partners, friends, and family members that need to be ended or at least changed in the way we deal with those people. Being in a relationship with an alcoholic for example, who refuses to stop drinking, while you hold on to the ideal that one day they will stop, will only disappoint and hurt you over and over again.

You have to see the person for who they are. That doesn’t mean you leave them if you don’t want to or stop trying to offer them help, it means that you align yourself more with reality so that everytime you find that person drunk you don’t take it personal and maybe it means you put more responsibilty on that person to attain sobriety instead of on yourself to do it for them. This will not only take a tremendous burdan from you, but it will also allow you to step back and see the situation more clearly.

The same goes for any relationship, including work.

Sometimes at work we make ourselves miserable, wishing things were different instead of accepting the reality of the way things are. By accepting reality, we can choose to either adjust to it so that we are able to maintain our sanity and a sense of accomplishment or we can decide that this particular job isn’t working for us and we need to move on. That’s what accepting reality does, it allows us to move on in little or big ways from situations that are not working for us.

Most of us don’t like change or for things to end, but often these things are necessary. Sometimes you have to leave one job to find a better one, or change the way you relate to a family member in order to have peace of mind. Beginnings, middles and ends all have their places in our lives and we can’t be afraid of them.

For example, few months ago I was hesitant to enter a new relationship becasue I hate beginnings and endings. I don’t like the feeling of having to “sell myself” or for someone to “sell themselves” to me, and I definitely don’t like the end of relationships. I prefer the middle, where everything is comfortable and stable and all the nuiances of the beginning have already been worked out, but no ending is in sight. However, you can’t get to the middle without the beginning so I had to accept that and I am glad I did as it has allowed me to not only get to know a wonderful person, but to explore myself and the way I am in relationships so that hopefully this relationship will have no ending.

Not accepting things can make us stay in dead relationships and jobs way too long out of fear of the unknown, and sometimes that is okay. Sometimes we are not ready or strong enough to make the change needed and we need some time to build our strength. This is not something to beat yourself up over because change takes preparation and when we are ready, when we feel strong enough, we will make the change necessary. No one can tell us when we are ready, but we’ll know. As long as we are accepting the reality of the situation, we will know when the time is right to make change.

Every real relationship we have, job we have, place we go has lessons for us to learn and once we’ve learned those lessons, it is often time to move on or to change something about ourselves. Making changes takes courage and faith and the ability to let go of fear, something I personally have to work on. We have to know that while change can be difficult and scary, we will be okay.

I personally believe that our lives are carefully and lovingly planned and that all of us are right where we are supposed to be. We aren’t off track or a mistake. We are currently, at this moment, right where we are supposed to be, with the people we are supposed to be with, for one reason or another. Each step is a lesson and change is usually just a progression of lessons. Sometimes people have to learn to love and be loved. To stand up for themselves. To stop wasting time and money on other people or wasting away at dead end jobs. Everything is a lesson and until we learn what the lesson is through acceptance, we’ll continue to be faced with the same challenges.

Once we’ve learned those lessons, we will be presented with new ones. It’s just the way the universe works.

Not all lessons we have to learn are painful, but sometimes we have to go through those painful lessons so that we can get to the lessons that are filled with love and happiness. By accepting reality and where we currently are, even if we don’t like that place, it will help us learn the lessons that situation has to teach us so that we can not only be grateful for them, but also move on.

People who struggle with acceptance usually end up creating a life for themsleves that is full of drama, heart ache, confusion, disappointment and regrets. Acceptance helps us take those lessons and become stronger, smarter and

Taking Back Control Over Your Thoughts, Feelings And Emotions

quotes-will-smith-Favim.com-596013This is one of my favorite quotes, not because it is brilliant, which it is, not because it is simple and true, which it also is, but because it is something I teach daily to my clients and something that I personally struggle with.

A large majority of my clients are suffering from various issues because of interpersonal problems, many which could be eliminated or at least greatly reduced if they just stopped allowing other people to control their thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Matter of fact, learning to control your thoughts, feelings and emotions is the hallmark of cognitive behavioral therapy which is the main theoretical orientation I work from.

When I listen to my clients vent in anger, cry in sadness or hyperventilate through anxiety, what I hear a lot of is that they are giving other people too much power over them, many of them who don’t have their best interest at heart and who wouldn’t be sitting across from me in emotional and psychological pain if the tables were turned.

These people my clients let control them, for the most part, couldn’t care less about the agony they were causing them.

Most of my clients allow boyfriends, so-called friends, family members and even mere acquaintances dictate how they feel about themselves, how their day is going, what they think about their life and even their future.

It goes much deeper than that, but the point is that they have given other people power over them and I have to teach them how to start taking it back and keeping it for themselves.

I also try to teach them that nothing matters until they make it matter, something I got out of the book I AM: Discovering Who You Really Are by Howard Franco.  It basically means that you decide what effects you, how it effects you and what doesn’t.

Most people’s emotional thermostat is set on automatic, they automatically respond to certain situations the same, usually either with anger, fear or self-pity.

Learning that nothing matters until you interpret why it matters, how much it matters and how to respond to it, allows you to keep your power and decide rationally how and if you should respond to a situation. It takes the automatic response out of it, and allows you to slow down and make a much more fair decision.

Often our emotions and actions are out of line with the actual situation which causes a lot of emotional turmoil, but I don’t want to stray too far from the main topic. The bottom line is, we have to stop the cycle of allowing other people to control us, especially those who invest so little into us in a positive way.

I used to have an ex-girlfriend who I let control my thoughts, feelings and emotions to the point that I was probably a bit neurotic. How I felt about myself depended on how she felt about me that day. If she was happy with me and showing me love, I felt great about myself. If she was in a bad mood and treating me poorly, I hated myself. My life was full of anxiety trying to figure out how to keep her happy with me, something that was totally out of my control.

It took too many anxious days and crying at night for me to realize that she had too much control over me and I needed to take that control back. It took some self-help books, talking with friends who actually cared about me, and even some meditation before I finally found the strength to take back control and leave that person.

Sometimes however you can’t just leave that person because that person is in your family, or your husband or someone you don’t want to lose contact with, but you want to stop allowing them to control you. In that case, the person who has to do the work is you and only you.

It is not easy, but it is one of the most liberating personal experiences you may ever have.

I’ll end this with a line from chapter three in the book I AM: Discovering Who You Really Are, which is titled “You Decide What Matters”:

“What you experience can only have an effect on you in a tangible way if you make it matter. If you don’t make it matter,  it will have no effect on you.” – Howard Falco

On Domestic Violence And Why Women Stay

abuse10Have you been watching the Jodi Arias trial? It’s a fascinating one that’s for sure.

I haven’t so much as watched it as listened to it whenever I am in the car  and while I have my opinions, I’ll save that for after the trial.

The thing that caught my attention today was the domestic violence expert, who testified yesterday, Alyce LaViolette. LaViolette is a psychotherapist who specializes in domestic violence. Although I am not sure if Jodi Arias really was a victim of domestic violence, I do know that what LaViolette said about domestic violence rings true for millions of women.

Both men and women can be victims of domestic violence, but since the majority of domestic violence victims are women, I’ll be referring mostly to women in this post. And I have written about The Cycle of Violence, Power and Control in a previous post if you would like more information.

We Need Never Be Ashamed of Our Tears- Charles Dickens

Women who are abused often don’t tell anyone, even their closes friends and family because they are generally humiliated and ashamed of the abuse. They go through great lengths to hide the fact that they are being abused, even to the point of protecting their abuser and acting out on anyone who says anything bad against him, especially when they don’t want to look like they have made a bad choice in a partner.

On top of that, there is also the halo effect operating. That’s when someone keeps thinking about the one great quality about someone, despite the many bad ones and that keeps them from seeing the total picture. They are living in two different realities and will fight to keep the shame from one reality from entering the other.

Many women are afraid to leave their abuser and rightfully so, as leaving is usually the most dangerous time in the abuse cycle, when the woman is most likely to be severely hurt or killed. Many women also stay in hopes that things will change, despite the evidence that they probably won’t. They will see that their abuser has the potential to be a great mate, only if he wasn’t abusive.

Also, I’ve learned from working with abused women that they actually get brainwashed into believing that no one else will ever love them or want them,  so they stay because they start believing they are so ugly, worthless, fat, stupid, (insert insult here) that they are lucky that their abuser even wants them.

Case Example

I have a teenage client who is dating an older man. She’s over 18 so it’s legal, but this man she is dating has a bad temper problem. He blows up on her unpredictably and has even broken his phone by throwing it against the wall when she didn’t answer one of his phone calls.

He is also extremely controlling. They have only been together for about four months, but already he has isolated her from all of her friends and has her calling him at a particular time everyday or else “he gets really mad”.

He’s even already trying to get her to move away from her family and in with him, another way of isolating her from people who love her and would potentially see her bruises.

He hasn’t hit her, yet, and she doesn’t see anything wrong with their relationship. She loves him and thinks he “just has a temper” and he blames his anger on supplements he is taking which could be true, but I think it’s a cover for his explosive temper. All of her friends are worried about her, but she see’s their concern as unnecessary and even as signs of jealousy.

To me, a professional counselor who has counseled abuse victims and abusers, the writing is all over the walls. She’s already got one foot into a domestic violence relationship without even realizing it. It’s just a short matter of time before he puts his hands on her. He’s even got her thinking about stopping therapy with me because I am a male and he doesn’t like her associating with any males, even if it’s her therapist.

I’ve been working with her on self-esteem issues, but now we are primarily working on this sense she brings it up in therapy all the time, yet doesn’t seem willing or ready to do anything about it. She’s even already thinking of getting pregnant which I am sure he is also pushing on her.

Leslie Morgan Steiner: Why domestic violence victims don’t leave

If you have a few minutes, watch Leslie Morgan Steiner’s personal account of being in an abusive relationship. I’ve inserted the video below. I attempted to show this to the client mentioned above, but after a couple of minutes she refused to listen to any more although everything Steiner was experiencing in the initial stages of her relationship with her abuser, this young lady was experiencing almost exactly.

Steiner talks about the initial stages of abuse which are:

  1. Seduce and charm the victim
  2. Isolate the victim from friends and family
  3. Introduce the threat of violence to gauge their response to potential violence
  4. Actual violence and the continuation of the abuse/power and control cycle

I try not to push clients too hard too fast, after all it’s their lives and their choices, I just try to help them see the signs that say “detour” before they drive off the cliff. However often times we are too blinded by love, our own mess or even other people’s mess to see the signs right in front of us.