Being in an intimate relationship with a psychpath awakens your reality to a darkness you never knew existed. You always knew that there were serial killers and rapists in the world, but you never knew they could be hidden behind a charming exterior.
You consented to being close to the person they presented themselves to be. But you never consented to being intimate with someone who carries darkness within them.
When you hear people say that you chose to be in a relationship with an abuser, it is confusing and re-traumatizing. They make their point by saying that you had free will and walked into the relationship with open eyes.
They do not understand the mind manipulatiin of a psychopath and how your reality was very different at the beginning of the relationship than it is now.
Not only do you have to come to terms with the cognitive dissonance of the two different realities…the person you thought you were sleeping with….and the person you were actually sleeping with……
You now have to listen to this other proposed reality that you went into the relationship with an abuser with open eyes and free choice.
Only two kinds of people would say this to you….Pathological narcissists….and very closed minded judgemental people who think they are better than you, because of course…it would never have happened to them!
The narcissists that post comments like this on the youtube blogs of survivors are sadistically gaslighting the victims. They are intentionally twisting your reality, which they are fully aware has already been twisted by one of “their kind.”
Victim blaming is most often instigated by pathological narcissists. Other people may believe their lies because they are being manipulated by the narcissist. So the very people saying that no one can have their mind manipulated….are having their own minds manipulated….and their beliefs fed to them by a narcissist.
PTSD is a term most people have heard, but often they do not really know what it means.
If you tell someone you have PTSD, it may be hard for them to know what you mean by that, unless they have it themselves or maybe they have a close friend or family member with it.
People with PTSD have trouble with relationships, but not for the reasons people think.
Once you have been traumatized, and then re-traumatized by triggering situations, you feel generally unsafe and there is a natural tendency to want to retreat…back up your steps and run for cover.
People with PTSD can be re-traumatized by people who do not understand, and by people who are more concerned with their own agenda than really understanding.
When someone with PTSD has certain triggers, and explains those triggers to someone, it is important that they are validated and respected. If someone wants to care about a loved one with PTSD, they need to really listen to that person, when they talk about what triggers them.
*A person that intentionally uses your triggers against you is dangerous to your mental well being.
But then there are people who just don’t want to listen to or respect your boundaries. Your perceptions are not of an significance to them.
Everyone has personal boundaries, but people with post traumatic stress disorder can suffer severe re-traumatization when a loved one does not honor their trigger boundaries.
Some triggers cannot be avoided, such as loud noises that may occur independently from either person. However, talking someone into going to a loud dance club, or guilting them into going to fireworks, when it has been made clear that loud noises are triggers, is abusive.
People who have PTSD from the military, and people who have PTSD from domestic abuse have different causes for their symptoms, but some things are the same.
The fight-or-flight mode is activated by the amygdala. If the brain perceives a threat, even if that threat is not real, the amygdala will send chemicals into the body like adrenaline and cortisol.
The feeling in the body of a “perceived threat” and a real threat is exactly the same. The same physiological responses occur, including blood pressure elevation, and feeling of extreme fear and the feeling that you have to act right away.
Someone who had their jaw fractured by an abusive boyfriend, who suddenly stormed towards them in a fit of anger, may be triggered by someone coming quickly into their personal space, especially if that person is angry.
Once you have asked someone not to do certain things which trigger you, it is a terrible feeling when they still continue to do them. It feels very violating, and only serves to break the trust bond.
Relationships need to be based in trust. Intimate relationships, as well as friendships and family relationships have to feel safe. If one person does not feel safe, then there is a lack of understanding and a lack of trust.
Without both parties feeling safe, the relationship will break down. People with PTSD can find it difficult to trust again, after others have invalidated them about their symptoms.
Sometimes someone will disbelieve you, minimize your trauma, or accuse you of trying to manipulate them with your explanations about your trauma and your triggers. This is very painful and re-traumatizing.
People who have PTSD or C-PTSD from abuse were invalidated as part of the abuse process. Their emotions were minimized, disregarded and made fun of.
To have someone close to you minimize your PTSD, or disbelieve you is re-traumatizing. It gives the victim into an emotional flashbacks or actual sensory flashbacks.
You can only tolerate being traumatized and re-traumatized so many times.
Soldiers that come back from war only to be disrespected by civilians, or invalidated and ignored by the Veterans Administration, are being re-traumatized.
It is a way of invalidating a person’s reality. This has negative effects on the person’s mental and emotional state.
People with PTSD can be perfectly good and caring partners and friends. They just need validation, respect and understanding.
But after repeated re-traumatization, a person feels isolated and too vulnerable to take a chance on trusting another person again. This leads to self isolation, depression, and often suicidal thoughts.
Evolutionary psychology tells us that our subconscious brain feels threatened by the potential that we would be completely isolated, shunned or thrown out of the social circle.
A Little Evolutionary Psychology
In the past, humans lived in social survival groups called tribes. Being accepted and included by the tribe was critical for survival. Being shunned would have meant death !
Our primal brain (called the reptilian brain) perceives rejection by the tribe to be potentially life threatening. When we are feeling a similar kind of threat, it triggers the fight or flight response in our limbic system of the brain. The amygdala becomes active and send all kinds of alerts and chemicals into the body.
Technically, we could survive living alone and isolated these days, but we were not meant to live in isolation… especially isolation due to “mobbing” or “scapegoating” by the tribe.
This is one of the reasons that scapegoated family members, suffer such severe mental and emotional trauma.
People with PTSD need to feel that they will still be accepted by the Tribe (family, community…whatever applies to the situation…).
They need to know that their personal reality will be validated, even though it may be very different from that of other people. The experiences someone with PTSD has endured may seem strange to people that have not ever had that kind of trauma in their reality.
Isolation can cause death by suicide or “failure to thrive.”
Self isolation will almost always cause severe depression. But being re-traumatized is just as bad, and the brain will try to lead people away from that pain.
Our primal brains are designed to take us away from danger, or perceived danger….and towards pleasure. But the “away from danger” is the priority.
Re-exeriencing the feelings of danger, fight or flight chemicals and physiological responses, is not something that anyone could tolerate on a regular basis.
We were not built to feel in danger all the time. Being in a state of hyper-arousal all the time depleats the immune system and causes mental disorders.
People with PTSD need understanding and validation.
They need their loved ones to be sensitive to their triggers, and to pay attention to what the person asks and needs.
Otherwise. the relationships cannot continue in a way that is safe for the PTSD sufferer. The person with PTSD will shut down and crawl inside of themselves. No healthy relationship can be sustained without safety for both people.
Image by Dr. David McDermott
Psychopaths are 1 in 25 people. That is a high number.
They are disguised as regular people….pillars of the community….coaches of your kid’s sports team….pastors of your church….your therapist….the local police officer….your surgeon…..your date from Match.com…
Learn the signs of psychopaths. Educate yourself about the red flags, their tactics, and the way they manipulate their prey. They think with their reptilian brain….you are the prey and they are the predator.
Psychopaths only blend in because people do not know what they are looking at, and they dismiss the signs even when they are right in front of them.
Stay safe and keep your kids safe. Psychopaths can be charming and they know how to press your emotional buttons. They get into your mind by eliciting emotional reactions from you.
These are people that you do not want to allow into your life. Once they are in, it can be hard to get rid of them. They retaliate on people that reject them in ways that you cannot imagine, unless it has happened to you.
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When you are a teenager, or a preteen, you are learning about yourself and also learning about what kinds of people you like to be around. You are hopefully living a happy, healthy life, but I realize that many of you are not living a home life that is mentally healthy.
Some of you have supportive parents and others of you have abusive parents. Whether they abuse is physical, sexual or mental / emotional , any kind of abuse will affect your judgement about selecting friends and boyfriends / girlfriends.
You have to know who you are. You are on a path of self discovery. As you learn about yourself, you also need to believe in yourself.
You are still developing your self esteem and your value system. You are still developing your personality and how you present yourself to the world. You are learning how to interact, how to attract others and what to do with them, once you attract them.
Here are some important things for you to remember, when you are dating.
1. You matter ! Your feelings and your thoughts matter.
2. Trust your feelings and your intuition. If you feel like something is wrong with w certain person, or a certain relationship, then listen to that intuition. It is there as an alert system for you.
3. Do not let others choose for you. People think they know who you are and who would be a good match for you, but they do not. You know what you want and need. NO one else can pick someone for you.
4. Do not choose someone, in accordance with what the social group wants you to do. Not only will individual people want to “set you up” , but the social group itself may have rules about who you can and cannot date. Be careful to think for yourself and not to let others think for you.
5. If you do not like being with someone, you never will. Do not try to force yourself to like a guy that you do not like, just so that you can have a boyfriend / or girlfriend. You are better on your own than with someone who you just do not like. Do not think that you can Make yourself like them, by hanging out with them.
6. Relationships Should be Balanced. There should be give and take in relationships. It should not be one-sided, where one person gets their way all the time. One person should not be dominating over the other person.
7. No Abuse! The No Abuse Rule Cannot be Broken. No one can abuse you for any reason that makes it okay. Abuse includes being physically rough with you. This includes talking you into sex that you do not feel comfortable with.
Abuse is also any emotional or mental torment. If anyone is manipulative with you, by making you feel bad (guilty, shame, sad, scared) then that is abuse.
Abuse can be mental abuse, which could be trying to make you into someone you are not. Making you feel stupid, making you feel embarrassed in front of other people. Being nicer to your friends than to you. There are many mentally and emotionally abuse behaviors and you can read about them in some of my other posts.
8. Your Parents Can Not Choose for you. Your parents may thing they know someone who would be a good match for you. Most guys will act a certain way in front of your parents, that does not allow your parents to see everything about them. There is not enough information that your parents can get from any girl or boy that you like, in order to know how they will treat you.
PLEASE NOTE – If you have good parents that are not abusive, they will be looking out for you. I did say that they cannot choose someone for you, however they can WARN YOU if someone seems to be abusive or a very bad match for you. When you have feelings for someone, it is easy to miss red flags, but your parents may pick up on them.
9. Communication is Very Important. You should be able to communicate with the person you are dating, You should be able to talk about your thoughts, opinions and your feelings.
If they shut you down, and do not care about your feelings, then you should move on and let them go.
If they always have to be right and do not want your opinions or thoughts about things, they are a potential abuser and you need to get out.
10. It is okay to be on your own. It is okay to not have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. You do not have to be with someone all the time, or at all. If you have recently come out of a break up, then it is good to wait a while before jumping into a new relationship. Your emotions need to heal before you will have a good perspective to make good choices.
It is ok to be on your own. You do not need to be with someone, in order to be cool. You do not need someone in order to be happy. In fact some people will make you miserable.
It is ok to be on your own, just because you want to. You have a lot of things to do, with school, family and activities. Relationships take time and you may not have the time right now.
It is okay to be on your own. It is okay if no one has asked you out. There are always some girls who seem to get asked out all the time. You might be the one that no one seems interested in.
This is probably because you are a real person. You are not all fluff and puff. You have depth and intelligence. There will be someone that will really respect and love you for that. But the “click” people and the “popular” crowds do not like independent thinkers.
Be yourself. Do Not Change to fit in. DO not change to get a guy. be yourself and the right guy will come along. You would not be happy with these superficial people anyway. You would be frustrated and bored.
You need someone with some depth and intelligence. You will have to wait patiently until that special person comes along, because there are not as many independent thinkers as there are “crowd pleasers”
Guess what? This guy is also wondering where you are ! He is somewhere with people that he does not fit in with. He is the one not getting asked out, because he does not fit in with the group. They are waiting to meet you.
The aftermath of narcissistic abuse can be brutal…even worse than the abuse when you were in the relationship. If you are wondering why you seem to be in worse shape now, than when you were in the relationship, you are not alone.
The narcissist intentionally caused you to become addicted to your role, and your identity, that they made you accept. During the idealization phase they bombarded you constantly with messages and phone calls.
This was to intentionally alter your chemicals, in order to create an addictive bond with them. This is a very addictive bond, in which the brain and the body become dependent upon the dopamine release when you think about the narcissist, or hear their voice.
You were conditioned to crave this interaction, their approval, and their validation of your reality. Within a month or so, your brain began to be unable to regulate your stress level without the narcissist regulating them for you.
This is part of their design. The narcissistic psychopath intentionally creates a chemical addiction in you. This makes their Silent Treatments, and dissapprovals , during the Devaluation phase that much more painful.
After all….is there any relationship you have ever bern in…other than with a narcissist or a psychopath…that caused you such high levels of toxic loneliness, feelings of emotional disregulation, and mental pain…..when you were apart from them for a few days….or did not hear from them for a few hours, when they had promised to call….
This is addiction. It has physiological evidence in your brain. You could see it, if you had an MRI machine handy. This is intentional and this is what the Love Bombing is all about.
It is also why they revert….although temporarlily…to the idealization phase….anytime they feel they are losing their hold on you. By reverting to the idealization phase temorarily, the narcissist confuses your brain as well as creating a chemical explosion in you.
Those feelings of having that adfiction satisfied come back, and for that…you will not….and cannot leave them. Your brain always craves that next fix of chemicals and the narcissist knows this.
They intentionally use this addiction to manipulate you. They hold a power over you, like no other person can.
And when the relationship ends, you go into a terrible withdrawal of these chemicals that you were trained to be addicted to.
You crash fast and hard. The symptoms are similar to that of any drug addict that has been cut off from their drug of choice. It is not your fault.
It is not your fault. It was done without your consent. You never asked for this. You never saw it coming. You never saw it happening to you.
The withdrawal from narcissist or a psychopath is terrifically painful, and grueling to go through. You are the most vulnerable during this stage of recovery, to be hoovered back in by the apologetic narcissist.
It is understandable why victims go back to the narcissist, if they attemt to hoover them bac. In within the first six months. The chemical addiction and withdrawal symptoms seem to have a painful hold on survivors of a narcissist, for 6 months or more.
So why does your life fall apart? It is like what any other addict experiences. All aspects of your life are affected….from your emotional and mental states, to your physical health and immune system.
Keeping up with daily living activities is very difficult. Going to work is difficult. You become sleep deprived from insomnia, because your brain cannot self regulate your nervous system.
You are not crazy. A person that told you they cared about you, intentionally messed up your brain. They would do it all over again if they got the chance….and they may try…
Being tortured by someone you loved…and probably still love….is the worst form of betrayal.
Narcissists and psychopaths lie. They lie as easily and fluidly as other people pour their coffee. They lie as often as other people say hello.
Lying is part of their day. Lying to confuse. Lying to manipulate. Lying to make you look crazy.
Lying is there number one tool. …like the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The more they lie, the better they get at it. And they lie hundreds of times in a week.
They lie when it would be easier to tell the truth and more risky to lie. They lie to cover up their lies. They lie looking you right in the eyes.
They lie when they say “I would never lie to you.”