If it was abuse...

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eclecticmom

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If it was abuse...
« on: February 02, 2020, 12:25:22 AM »
Why can't any counselor tell me that?  when I read about verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, it's so familiar.  Not in the most extreme forms, but it's how my husband has treated me.  When I talk to friends who were abused in the past, they say my story sounds just like what they went through.  But the counselors I've talked to don't identify any of it as abuse.  They don't say, "yeah that's abusive" or "no, that's a normal part of marital friction."  I'm not laying the entire story out there, though, but neither did I with my friends.  I've been second guessing myself for years (about many things, not just my spouse), and this isn't helping.  I'm not sure why I want to hear it from a counselor specifically, though.  Thoughts?  Advice?

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StayWithMe

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2020, 12:40:13 AM »
What do your therapists say exactly.  ie "That could be abuse?"  or "If you are repeating that to me correctly, then that sounds like......."

When literature on abuse, it reads pretty definitively.  I was surprised to read the page on abuse in Wikipedia which said that parents treating children's belongings in a disprectful manner ( I para phrase here) is also a form of abuse.  Never thought about it that way.

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BeautifulCrazy

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2020, 12:51:55 AM »
Have you read the book "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evans?
I think it is the most decisive and clearest thing I have read so far that identifies (non-physical) partner abuse and calls it what it is. Never thought to check Wikipedia!!!
I understand self-doubt and your need for more professional validation than just your own feelings or your friends' similar experience...  but I think you can fully trust your heart, your intuition and people who have your best interests in mind. If you suspect you are being abused, you probably are.

This may be a completely different thing but I had similar frustrations with children's therapists and social workers several years back... none of them were willing to specifically identify the things my children saw or experienced at the hands of my ex husband as "abuse" or "abusive behaviour" because they didn't want to be wrong or appear to be biased if their notes or observations were included during any family court litigation. It Was Super Frustrating!!!

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11JB68

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2020, 01:03:20 AM »
I wonder if maybe the idea/therapist's thought is that if you experienced it as abuse then it was abuse.  Maybe they don't feel that they can/should define that for you.
I think some things are harder to define, since it may affect people differently.

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Poison Ivy

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2020, 01:30:36 AM »
What would you do differently if a therapist or other health-care professional called what your husband does "abuse"?  If you'd do something that you're not doing now, can you give yourself permission to do that thing based on your own opinion?

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Whiteheron

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2020, 11:32:52 AM »
I ran into the same thing. I was so angry that no one would call stbx's abuse out for what it was. At the time, I needed the validation. My T didn't label is as abuse (even though she hinted at it), stbx's T (in joint therapy) never called him out on his abuse.

The only one who labeled stbx's behaviors as abuse was our primary doc - I had called to express my concerns at stbx's deteriorating mental state and I had given some examples. He said "that sounds like extreme emotional abuse." I cried. He, and the kids' pediatrician were the only people to appear alarmed at stbx's behaviors.

Sometimes it helps to hear it from someone else, esp a professional, so you feel like you're not going crazy.
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

Being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok.

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eclecticmom

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2020, 06:00:34 PM »
I wonder if maybe the idea/therapist's thought is that if you experienced it as abuse then it was abuse.  Maybe they don't feel that they can/should define that for you.
I think some things are harder to define, since it may affect people differently.
I can't function within that framework, though.  To me this translates into, "stop experiencing it as abuse and there is no problem."  At some point, it has to be objectively abusive (or not).  If it's just a matter of perception, then all I'm "supposed" to do is change my perception.

What do your therapists say exactly.  ie "That could be abuse?"  or "If you are repeating that to me correctly, then that sounds like......."
Nothing like that, no.  At first, she would cut me off when I tried to list the things he said/did, and shift the focus back to me.  Eventually I mostly quit trying to lay it all out there to sort through.  But she did say I had some symptoms of someone who's being abused, and she acknowledged once that some response of his or another as "that's that control."  After something like 9 or 10 months, I finally said I thought it was emotional and verbal abuse, and she simply nodded.  But that could have been an, "I hear you saying that" nod and not a "yeah, you're right" nod.  idk.  I didn't/don't have the guts to ask.  Still working on assertiveness.  And I think that was more her goal than anything else--helping me work out of codependency.  Plus, she's a family systems therapist: make one healthy; make the others healthy.

Have you read the book "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evans?
Yes, that's what really opened my eyes, because before that, I wasn't thinking abuse, I just was miserable and had no idea what was going on or why or what to do with it.  She loses me with the patriarchy stuff, though.  And I need a range of concrete examples...I interrupt my kids...is that blocking and diverting?  I mean it's rude, but is every time someone interrupts an example of verbal abuse?  How do I know when to leave?  How do I know if it'll turn physical?  I ended up with questions like that, and that book was what made me want a therapist to sort through it all.

What would you do differently if a therapist or other health-care professional called what your husband does "abuse"?  If you'd do something that you're not doing now, can you give yourself permission to do that thing based on your own opinion?
It's not do...it's feeling assured I'm not having a knee-jerk reaction in leaving.  It's understanding the spectrum of these things, knowing whether I'm guilty myself, how to recognize it in others (because what if I just fall into the same pattern with someone else?).  It wasn't about giving myself permission, it was self-preservation.  I got to the point where I knew if I stayed, even "for the kids," I wouldn't survive myself.  But what I don't know is if I'm just really picky, sensitive, and weak, or if there was really an unhealthy/abusive situation.  It would help me answer the "What if it's me?" question.

I ran into the same thing. I was so angry that no one would call stbx's abuse out for what it was. At the time, I needed the validation. My T didn't label is as abuse (even though she hinted at it), stbx's T (in joint therapy) never called him out on his abuse.

The only one who labeled stbx's behaviors as abuse was our primary doc - I had called to express my concerns at stbx's deteriorating mental state and I had given some examples. He said "that sounds like extreme emotional abuse." I cried. He, and the kids' pediatrician were the only people to appear alarmed at stbx's behaviors.

Sometimes it helps to hear it from someone else, esp a professional, so you feel like you're not going crazy.
This.  Except I'm sure my examples aren't extreme.  I've read some terrible stories and think, "it's not that bad."  So if it's not that bad, shouldn't I stay?  Maybe I should talk to our doctors instead of therapists...

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Poison Ivy

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2020, 06:18:24 PM »
I don't know anyone who would call my ex-husband's behavior abusive, and I know that I didn't always behave perfectly.  But I ended the marriage even though I'm not perfect and he's not an abuser.  I accept the fact that some of it was me.  All the things that made the marriage bad to me -- my husband's long periods of unemployment, his financial fraud, his lying, his not talking to me for long periods, his preference of his parents over me -- were all survivable in some sense.  I occasionally got upset:  that was me.  I didn't always work full time:  that was me.  Me not being everything he wanted in a wife:  that definitely was me.  But it was still okay that I got a divorce. 

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GettingOOTF

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2020, 08:24:08 PM »
I donít think my therapist as ever called what my ex did ďabuseĒ even though it clearly was. We focus on me and how I can navigate things. I wonder if therapists are taught no to use this label.

If you need validation from your therapist tell them everything you have said here. Therapy is only effective when there is open and honest communication around expectations and needs. A few months ago I had felt for some time that my therapist was dismissive of some of my concerns. I eventually raised it, we discussed how I was experiencing the things she said and now she takes a different approach.

Many woman do not want to hear that what they are experiencing is abuse. You see this every single day here on these boards. Women are desperate for any explanation that will allow them to cling to the hope things will change so most donít react well to the ďabuseĒ label. This may be why your therapist hasnít said anything. They may feel that you are not ready to hear and accept this.

Thereís no point telling someone their partner is abusive if they arenít going to hear it. Itís best so focus on helping them with the things they are ready to acknowledge.

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NumbLotus

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2020, 08:30:06 PM »
It's not just women who can have a hard time hearing it.
Just a castaway, an island lost at sea
Another lonely day, noone here but me
More loneliness than any man could bear

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eclecticmom

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2020, 10:42:10 PM »
It's not just women who can have a hard time hearing it.
You're right.  It's hard to hear, or realize, no matter what.  I guess part of me is still trying to find some other explanation, some concrete confirmation or denial.  My counselor has said the relationship is unhealthy, and reading the Toolbox, she has be encouraging me to do many of the things on that list, but never came out and said things were/weren't skewing toward abuse, and this is how we're combating it, etc.  She just said we needed to get me healthy.  Which is true (I had a nervous breakdown).  But...idk.  I like spectrums, concrete examples, some way to filter everything.  Otherwise, how is not just in my head?

I'll try to be candid with her; we'll see.  I don't have hard feelings; she's been good, but not having it confirmed or denied is itself messing with my head.

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GettingOOTF

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2020, 11:09:46 PM »
I have discovered over the last few years that most people do what they think is best and have good motives.

I was so used to not being heard and being punished in one way another for speaking my mind or making my needs known.  Itís taken me a long time to learn how to speak up for myself and to not assign motives to others. The discussion with my therapist is a good example of this. I was ready to quit therapy and had become increasingly upset that she didnít seem to listen to what I said. When I raised this she was surprised. Now we have a different way of communicating which works much better for me.  I had to get comfortable with telling people what I need. Those of us who grew up with abuse or married abusive partners are masters at pushing down our own needs.

Thereís a very good chance that if you tell your therapist what youíve said here that she will be able to give you the validation. There is a chance that sheís a bad therapist but really I think that most people, including professionals, have no idea what our lives are like and how to properly support us.

I hope you are able to work things out.

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Poison Ivy

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2020, 11:45:03 PM »
It's possible that the therapist thinks that one of the goals with therapy with you is for you to second-guess yourself less and trust yourself more.  What you see as "tell me I'm right, what my husband is doing is abuse," the therapist might see as "she won't believe it unless I say it and that seems like more second-guessing and less self-trust."

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StayWithMe

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2020, 01:09:18 AM »
It's possible that the therapist thinks that one of the goals with therapy with you is for you to second-guess yourself less and trust yourself more.  What you see as "tell me I'm right, what my husband is doing is abuse," the therapist might see as "she won't believe it unless I say it and that seems like more second-guessing and less self-trust."

Oh, dear.   :stars:

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eclecticmom

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2020, 02:25:28 AM »
It's possible that the therapist thinks that one of the goals with therapy with you is for you to second-guess yourself less and trust yourself more.  What you see as "tell me I'm right, what my husband is doing is abuse," the therapist might see as "she won't believe it unless I say it and that seems like more second-guessing and less self-trust."
That's occurred to me.  It's possible.  That's not really what I want from a therapist, though.  But I'll also admit when I first started going, I couldn't articulate much of anything.  And I have some sort of anxiety that makes me want to put on a mask and pretend I'm fine, even when I'm supposed be vulnerable and it's a safe environment.  Most of the time, with most people, I can only "open up" after things are totally processed and I'm essentially sharing facts.  Not helpful if you don't know what to process or how.  I'll try to be frank when I see her next.

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Poison Ivy

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2020, 10:18:35 AM »
I think it's very common for people to put on their best face for the therapist.  Common and normal.  It can be very hard to talk about the not so good things.  Makes one feel so vulnerable!  And it's also common to discover that a therapist isn't the right fit.  Good luck with the process. 

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StayWithMe

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2020, 11:27:42 AM »
I think it's very common for people to put on their best face for the therapist.  Common and normal.  It can be very hard to talk about the not so good things.  Makes one feel so vulnerable!  And it's also common to discover that a therapist isn't the right fit.  Good luck with the process.

Not to mention, that based on one's negative emotions, that must make the patient a very hateful person.  I have not understood why the therapist does not see him / herself as an advocate of the patient / client, in simple terms, by the one who is paying them.

Imagine a lawyer who didn't fight tooth and nail to get a better deal for their client.

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Kat1984

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2020, 02:20:38 PM »
Eclecticmom, I have had a similar experience with my therapist.   I left one therapist because even though she specializes in DBT, she managed to hear my entire story about my sibling (as well as read all of my sib's and my email exchanges) and still didn't identify that my sis has some kind of PD or dysfunction.  I realize she can't diagnose my sibling, but as a specialist in BPD, I was expecting her to validate me by at least entertaining the idea that my sister's communication with me was dysfunctional/abusive/not normal.   Instead, she counseled me as if I had had some kind of disagreement with a nonPD friend.    Even suggested I have a private talk with my sibling....WHAT??  So that she can lie later about what I said?  That is crazy.

Next therapist was able to identify that sib's behavior was definitely not healthy or normal, and gave me lots of empathy. But didn't seem to know how to counsel me on boundaries or do any deep work with me.

Current one is overall good, and eventually was able to 'get it'.    I showed her all the email exchanges.   She seemed to be ready to treat the problem as a simple communication issue. I was ready to fire her. But then she said "It's hard to be gaslighted".    Well, she had me at "gaslighted"!    She has never used the word "abuse" but she is basically acknowledging it in a roundabout way.    I do wonder if they are taught not to use the word, or to use it sparingly.   Maybe they don't want clients to feel like victims?......

I told her that I tend to present myself to therapists as a very smart, well-mannered, in-control and agreeable person.    I told her that at the first visit, and I told her to call me on it.   I let her know that I am a people-pleaser, and that I want her to like me.   I will tend to agree with what she says even when I really don't agree.   And I asked her to call me on that too, because that behavior will not help me grow.  And it's the people-pleasing that I'm trying to stop.

I also told her that I don't always feel heard by her, and that I need to vent and get empathy more often.   She apologized and we worked on ways our interaction could go better.

She's not perfect and neither am I, but I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater.   Instead, I will be more assertive and brave with her, and give her feedback.  It's what I'm trying to do with all my relationships, so therapy is a safe way to do that, if you can find a therapist who is self-confident enough to be able to hear it.  If they aren't, you might be better off finding a new one.

I guess what I'm saying is that I've had to train my therapists.  If they're not trainable, I leave.   And I really do understand your desire for them to label some of your PD's behaviors as abusive.   Because we have learned from the PD to second-guess ourselves so much.  And of course the PD will sometimes DARVO and accuse US of being abusive.    :stars:

 :bighug:



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NumbLotus

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2020, 03:40:03 PM »
I wonder, and I'm just blue skying here, if therapists are reluctant to label abuse for fear they have misidentified the abuser and don't want to embolden an abuser unwittingly. I don't mean that they are accusing any of us of being abusers but just overall being cautious.

Imagine a covert NPD getting therapy nkt to work on themselves but to get feed via pity. The stories they tell will sound like they are getting abused. If the therapist says, wow, that is abusive, that could be destructive and increase the abuse the cNPD heaps on his/her relations.

Anyway, just a thought, I have no idea. I do wish society didn't enable abuse so much, but we do, on many levels (including systemic racism and so on).
Just a castaway, an island lost at sea
Another lonely day, noone here but me
More loneliness than any man could bear

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StayWithMe

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Re: If it was abuse...
« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2020, 04:16:10 PM »
yes, but an NPD can also just read it somewhere.  Only recently, have I learned that it is abuse when parents destroy their children's property or that the silent treatment is abusive.