Unmasking the abuser

Trigger warning: Content you are about to read addresses abusive relationships and specifically domestic violence and abuse. This is a very hot button issue and some of what you read as much as what you will see (in a video) could be very triggering. If you (or someone you know) is in a situation of abuse, there is help and it is ok for you to seek it out, accept it, and move on from it into better and healthier things. 

Not gonna lie. I have really struggled with trying to write this particular blog post.

This is despite the fact that the other blog posts I have written about domestic violence and abuse (per my blog stats) are the most read and popular of all of the rest. This one specifically is one that continues to outrank everything else I have written on here.

I guess I'm glad that people are finding it and reading it and it's hitting home with others but at the same time? I just wish it never would have happened. I wish it weren't something that is such a major part of not only my life but also my child's life.

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One thing that has recently helped me with my own recovery (a lot) is a TED talk that very specifically addresses, examines, and explains the intricacies and complexities of the major issues of domestic violence and abuse. Here it is... (and it's quite long and you might need to take breaks when watching it because there are a lot of things that are hard to hear from the speaker)...

TED talk: Unmasking the Abuser || Dina McMillan

One of the really major things that really resonated with me from the video was how something like domestic violence and abuse even starts. This is because (for the longest time) I have carried around a lot of shame with the fact that I even ended up in a situation the way I did.  I mean - really? Didn't I know better? Weren't there warning signs? How did I miss them all? And how/why did I stay (a little more than six years all told) in such an abusive situation for as long as I did?

This video finally articulated answers about how it even started. It's because I was groomed to be in the relationship from the get-go. (HERE is an article about such abusive behavior and HERE is another one.)

I have endured years of counseling and therapy and had years of time to reflect back and accurately remember how it all started with my ex/my daughter's father. Dina McMillan (in her video above) nailed it with the fact that my ex did this to me (classic grooming behavior).

Here are the major red flags for how abusive relationships often start:
  • Too much
    • Big promises and grandiose shows of affection that include gifts - small or large, tangible or not - and an insistence that there is "so much more" to come just "trust" them 
    • Things (whether words they say, events they plan, or private/public demonstrations of affection toward/about you) that really go over the top in the frequency that they happen because they "just can't help it."
  • Too soon
    • Almost immediately professing love and pushing for bigger commitments all while insisting that it's only happening because of some "cosmic" reason or otherwise that they might even be able to rationalize in some way, shape, or form. This sort of thing is also called Love bombing. (Here, here and here are things you can read about it.)
    • Reasons or things occurring where they insist on quickening the timeline of the relationship to happen even faster than what was originally agreed upon or what you even felt comfortable with
  • Transforming
    • Pushing for major life changes or shifts under the guise that they know better for you and they are trying to do their best for just/only you. 
    • An insistence that what you have is "special" and "just for you" and that the life you now have is almost your own personal "fairytale" come to life because you are just "that special" and "that important"
The way the relationship started with my ex? It completely adhered to the "Too much, Too soon, and Transforming" checklist. There was other stuff as well but I will save that for another blog post.

It's only now (after enduring counseling and therapy and even having third party individuals being involved to report and verify things that actually happened) that I can see things so crystal clear.

What is scarier about all of this is that in the last few months, someone took the time to try and find me because they said that my ex tried to do the same thing to them and they "hoped" that I could help them to stop him from doing it to the next person that he had recently moved on to.

Despite the fact my ex is (mostly) out of my life with my daughter, it was devastating to me to hear that he was continuing to do this to others and even had a string of other women that he was victimizing. What my ex did to me? I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

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Not gonna lie, I'm still working (every day) to heal from and move on from what I have been through.

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If there is one thing that I know I can do to keep moving forward, it's that I know I can speak out about it.  It's the very reason why I established this blog to begin with. Nobody should have to go through what I did and by sharing what I do, I truly do hope that it helps somebody to either not get into the situation that I ended up in OR to recognize that they are in an abusive situation themselves and perhaps help spark in them something that will help them find help and rescue.



If you are interested in more about Dina McMillan's expertise and work or would like to read more about the topic of covert narcissistic abuse, here are some more things you can read:

  • This blog post gives a decent overview of Dina's book (as much as the video below) if you prefer to read another perspective.

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