When Fear Rules !

STOPPING ABUSE

” Let No Crisis Go to Waste “

by on Apr.15, 2013, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

I was watching a video this morning where a guy was walking along some boardwalk in California asking those who passed by to sign his petition. He openly exaggerated what he was saying to get the attention of his audience.

He asked them to sign a petition to eliminate the Second Amendment altogether and allow the government to go house to house confiscating ALL guns from law abiding citizens, but to let the bad guys have their guns so that the police can take care of them in their own way. People just signed the petition, one after another as if he was asking them if they wanted free ice cream .The more he repeated and embellished on his words, the more the people seemed to just turn him off, sign and be on their way.

To test his theory out further that so many people just do not care even to know what they are signing, he proposed another issue. With clipboard in hand, he asked each person to sign a petition to ask that ” inflation be allowed to go up to 100%”. Again, people signed without a question asked.
If that is where we are in our society, that so many of us are so lost in our own little worlds that we are unaware, or just don’t care, then we are truly in self-destruct mode. Are we that numb ? Are we that lost in our own space ?
 

So, it should not be surprising that so many who make up the decision making ranks of our government, both Democrat and Republican politicians alike, have become liars, manipulators and abusers of  the very people they serve. Yes, I did say abusers, because they use shame and guilt to manipulate us to see things their way, to do their bidding, a tactic I have seen all too often when I deal with children or young woman who have been emotionally, sexually or physically abused. 

Our Congressmen, Senators, and yes even our President promise everything under the sun, knowing that what they offer may be impossible to deliver, but also having the realization that we as a people have become weak, lazy or believe there is nothing we can say or do that will make a difference. They are cunning, these master politicians, and they know human nature. They have come to see us as weak and as easy victims to prey upon.

“No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.” ― John F. Kennedy

I cringe when I hear speeches that are meant to instill guilt and shame, when no real solutions are put forth because sometimes there are no real solutions. Bad people will do bad things ! No matter what we do, no laws, no programs will create a utopia. There will be bad people who do evil because of their own dark issues and needs. There are people who, although they are capable of contributing to our society, feel entitled to be taken care of, and be depenndent. Nothing we do will change that.

Have you really seen any government program that does not wreak of corruption and fraud ? Look at how we treat our Vets. Look at the scams that openly cheat and defraud our Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Retirement systems. Look at how many more people each day come to be able to JUSTIFY scamming the system. 

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Rahm Emanuel


Our government should be consciously and tirelessly cleaning up and making the present programs work before creating new programs. Instead, CRISES are used to pass bills and laws and create even more programs where, even in writing these grand proposals, there is manipulation and hidden agendas at play. PORK is added to most bills to benefit politicians in their respective states so that they can guarantee to please those who will vote them back into POWER. Politicians do what they do in so many cases in order to secure their own power and positions. 


{ “Power tends to corrupt,” said Lord Acton, the 19th-century British historian. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” His maxim has been vividly illustrated in psychological studies, notably the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, which was halted when one group of students arbitrarily assigned to serve as “prison guards” over another group began to abuse their wards.}

I expend much energy each day as a Psychologist attempting to help people discover and find the inner strength to stand up for what they think, feel and desire to do with their lives. I see first hand how destructive it is when good people are made dependent . That dependency weakens them, causes them to not seek their dreams, and in the end become angry with themselves that they avoided all they wished at one time to accomplish in their lives.  

True happiness comes when a person feels self-respect for what they think, feel and do with their lives. Facing challenges strengthens self-esteem and encourages more personal growth. People need JOBS and OPPORTUNITIES, not handouts. But at the same time, like a spoiled child, promise them everything, throw them a few free toys, and they become victims of the entitlement generation. Just wait until they face the consequences of their dependency ! I think many of our politicians know exactly what they are doing. So forgive me when I say that it is absolutely deplorable to see my fellow man, or woman manipulated by others for their own gain. 

We must be accountable to ourselves for the decisions we make and the directions our lives take. However, when you give power to the people who govern our society, your job has just begun. The hard part is making certain that you make each politician accountable to the people he or she serves. We have acquiesced so much control to our government officials, and yes, we have become lazy at calling them to task for their mischievous behaviors. Like children, they must be reigned in and made to face consequences for their use and abuse of power.

This problem is enormous and is not going away. Whether the issue is Watergate, abhorrent “sexual” antics in the Oval Office, or the Benghazi debacle, if we do not hold their feet to the fire, the politicians we empower will rule us rather than serve us !

“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of r elinquishing it.” ― George Orwell1984


Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Benhaven Counseling
Blog: www.RuledByFear.com
Newsletter and On-Line Support Group :www. OneStepataTime.comhttp://www.dreamstime.com/-image21331338

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She Needs Your Help !

by on Jan.14, 2013, under STOPPING ABUSE

Will you help me prevent a young girl of thirteen going on fourteen not give up ?  Her name is Renee.

When I met her, she was homeless, a ten year old child on the streets by herself,  as she was attempting to escape her mother
who was a prostitute. Her mother expected her to “turn tricks” now that she was ten. So she ran, and then experienced the ugliest
and darkest side on humanity at the hands of men who sexually assaulted her because they could.
Her abusers were not just men of the streets, but a school custodian and a principal. Yes they treated  her like trash. Why ? Because she was just a homeless kid, and because they could. They were punished for what they did, but that did not erase the scars, the deep hurt and distrust she had for mankind.
I was lucky enough to find a family who took her in, and eventually adopted her. Now at thirteen, you might expect a happy ending. Not yet !
Besides the ongoing health problems she still experiences due to her ordeals as a child on the streets, foraging for food in dumpsters, trying to heal a broken immune system, she is so far behind her new sisters and other kids younger than her , that she is frustrated, shamed and angry.
She talks of giving up.
She just wants to be loved like other kids. She just wants to be normal. In my eyes she is special as she survived more than I could imagine, but sadly what I know is true. However, in her new world, she is different. She does not fit in yet. Other kids make fun of her because she is not as well formally educated, even though she has the street sense that allowed her to survive, where most others her age would have perished.
I tell her how special she is. I tell her that we each have skills, something special we can do with our lives if we only could see beyond our fears.
I tell her she has a loving heart even after all she has been through, and that she could teach others a thing or two about life.
I want her to write so that she can see that she has things to say that could move people.
I may be close  to getting a nod from her to do just that, but she needs encouragement from the world that she feels at times has cursed her.
If you have the mind to send her a supportive note, please do and  I will forward it to her.If you respond  with a comment, i will make sure she gets it. It might just help turn the tide of her life. She may actually believe
there is life after all she has been through.
I remember  something special about her that might help. When she was on the streets, my friends and I wanted to send her food gift cards for something decent to eat
while we were working to get her off the streets. She refused any gifts, even food. She needed to remain strong, and if nothing else, she felt strong on the streets. She did not wish to be dependent as that would make her weak. She did not wish to TRUST anyone, to then find out their real agenda.
Instead, since it was the time of the Tsunami in Japan, she asked if we could do something for those kids. That should tell you something about this special little girl.
She needs to know her life matters. She needs to see the purpose in her life as we all do.
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Blog: RuledByFear.com
On-Line Support Group: OneStepAtATime.com
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Why allow ourselves to be manipulated ?

by on Jan.06, 2013, under STOPPING ABUSE

 

Manipulation of one person or many people by others occurs in many ways and in many forms everyday. It happens in families. It happens at work.It happens among friends.It happens in some religious organizations. And, can you believe, It happens in government ?  Wasn’t it the former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel who said,  ” ” ? Those who manipulate usually thrive on control, and therefore they know how to use their skills effectively.  The manipulators I have dealt with do it because they can ! Maybe to hide their own insecurities and secret frustrations and needs, maybe to carry out dark agendas for power, but whatever their motivation, why do we allow it ? 

 

Maybe:

 

Once we are aware of being manipulated, some might feel anger, even rage. Many tell me their anger quickly turns to shame for being so stupid, so
foolish. It can feel demeaning and cut to the core of our self-esteem and confidence and our shame and bruised self-esteem may cause
us to be silent.
We may tell ourselves there is nothing we can do when we are up against such people.
We tell ourselves, we do not want that person angry with us.
We fear something bad will happen if we stand up for ourselves, like we might be fired  or marked as a whistle blower.
We tell ourselves, it will be ok, it’s not really that important or that bad.
We tell ourselves no one cares, so why should we, it will pass .
We tell ourselves that no one will listen.
We just do not like to deal with conflict, so let others do it.
Really, it is ALL about FEAR. Fear of rejection, failure, embarrassment, or REPRISAL if we speak our minds !!!
We are Ruled By Fear, and unless we find the inner strength and join forces with others who also feel as we do, we will wake up one day realizing how much we have short-changed ourselves and our lives and goals because of fear and avoidance. ” United we stand, divided we fall “, a quote from the days of the American Revolution is as appropriate now as it was then.
I have had the unforgetable opportunity to work with a number of these manipulative, controlling people, mostly due to my work with their victims, including abused children, victims of domestic violence and homeless kids.These Manipulators have an unquechable thirst for power and control matched with a limitless ability to justify and rationalize their behaviors. Some of these abusers act out in more subtle ways, like an uncle or grandfather who builds trust with a niece over time, only to lure the child into some act of  molestation. Some are more open and in your face like a father who molested his daughter for years until she escaped the only way she knew how, by giving up her life. It can be a boss why sexually harasses an employee, or a minister who controls his flock by using guilt and shame.
Those who would control and manipulate us will lie so convincingly, will charm us with their charisma, will promise us with all we wish to hear, will give us just enough to whet our appetites for more and then blame us for whatever goes wrong. Blame, blame, blame, these manipulators know how to divide and conquer,  and make every effort to make those who question them feel guilty and shamed, so as to seal their lips.
To be sure, these manipulators can lie with such efficiency, without hesitation, so that normal people with conscience begin to question the validity of their own common sense.They are very good at what they do, and with a lack of conscience , and hidden agendas in their minds, they most often get what they want until their voracious appetite for control leads them to take bites that are just so big, so against the nature of their “subjects “, that rebellion may finally occur. Unfortunately, the havoc they wreak in the meantime is hideous and scars their victims for life.
If this all sounds a bit melodramatic, you might need to open your eyes and listen carefully to the world around you. While we can be lulled into a comfort zone by avoiding the dark side, sit across from a child who has been sexually molested by someone she trusted, and answer her questions of WHY ! Talk to a homeless child, who for no fault of her own, finds herself alone on the streets being physically and sexually abused on a regular basis. Tell her why even a school principle abused her. Look at the histories of most developing countries, including our great nation and take note of the atrocities that occur and ask why ! Look at the games and lies of “some” of our own politicians and ask why so many fall prey to believing them even when they have histories that should turn most deaf to their promises.
My resolution for the New Year is to share, learn and teach in as many ways as I can in order to gain the understanding and support of others who would ban together to challenge the bullies of our lives. It is only by building a Support Group of people who want to make a difference, that we can give a voice to those who have been and are being emotionally, sexually or physically abused, manipulated and controlled by those who can because they know how to use FEAR to silence their victims. Bullies use the technique of “Divide and Conquer” , and mixed with shame, they win all too often.
I have such a group, called The Watch. It is a group of select and trusted people, as well as heads of some powerful organizations that fight against abuse and manipulation. I can share with these people of conscience and conviction and do so when I am dealing with especially heinous abusers, especially the narcissistic sociopaths
in our society, It offers me strength when I am in contact with abusers, because they know I am not alone in my endeavors to limit their hateful behaviors.
I will follow-up this article with others that will hopefully be helpful to anyone who has suffered from abuse and manipulation, to aide them in realizing there is support out there,and to also stimulate more to become involved.
You might look into the Nicole Brown Simpson Foundation, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and The Center for Community Solutions. I have found these, among others, as being very helpful and part of my support system.
Happy New Year  !!!
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
On-Line Support Groups : www.OneStepataTime.com

 

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The Dumbing Down of America ?

by on Dec.16, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

 

I have the pleasure and satisfaction of working every day to help Individuals identify the conflicts and issues that are blocking them from discovering and doing what they want with their lives, what might bring them a greater sense of worth, value and a sense of meaning and purposefulness.

 

In most cases, that means that they must 1]  identify the negative thoughts and fears that have detoured their previous efforts, and 2] set up reasonable goals with specific behavioral steps that can show them that they CAN, in fact,  achieve, grow and flourish.

 

If they just give themselves the chance to face their fears in palatable bites, then after frequent and consistent exposure to those fears, they can desensitize, neutralize or become numb to those fears. Once they see that they can face the anxiety that comes with taking steps and making changes, they will realize that they can survive and thrive. A momentum  develops, that if nurtured by a healthy support system, can lead them to their personal goals and a change in how they perceive themselves. This process is exciting to watch, and I admit, is very fulfilling for me.

 

However, I also look around and see desensitization working  in reverse. We are exposed to things in advertising, politics and day to day life where lies and fabrications, or at best stretching of the truth becomes common-place. After repeated exposure, we may become numb to the lies and deceit, and just hear what we want to hear.

An alarming number of good people in our society have become weakened by the barrage of deceitful, manipulative games and controlling techniques at the hands of those with less conscience and selfish agendas. It is a sad thing to see the Dumbing Down of America, where so few have so much power over so many because we have become so comfortable, so desensitized to the  way it has become. In an increasing number of situations, even if we are aware of the loss of morality, ethics, and our growing dependence on others, on corporations, even our government and political parties, we say or do nothing. Many have come to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities in our society, but have lost the fire in the belly to speak up, fight for that independence, and work hard for what they want. And sadly, a growing number have come to feel entitled.

 

Maybe we have all become more adapting and lazy people, so as a result, we are lambs whose minds can  easily be taken over and led by those who would control and manipulate for their own gains.

We have become so used to life as it has been, that we cannot imagine, nor even consider what it takes to maintain and nurture those freedoms. With the exception of those who have fought our wars, gone through the Great Depression, or survived the Holocaust, how would we know what it is like to be without freedom and independence ?. Oh, we hear of suffering in other countries with dictators and sociopathic leaders, but we do not see what we can become without vigilance and action.

 

Dependence breeds weakness. A sense of entitlement leads to a point at which a person feels less worth and value, or pride in their achievements. Then, what comes next ? I fear more and more people will become angry with themselves as their personal pride diminishes, but they may blame others for their plight. Without the pride of personal achievement, self-esteem atrophies, and one’s moral and ethical fiber weakens. This is not a pretty picture !

 

Just a Thought !

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Benhaven Counseling
Blog: RuledByFear.com
On-Line Support Group: OneStepataTime.com
www.Facebook.com/groups/RuledByFear

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Being Manipulated !

by on Oct.28, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

What would you feel if you realized you had been manipulated, controlled or used by another person ?

What if that person is someone you trusted, believed in and hoped was different, maybe even looked up to as a hero ?

 

Would you feel angry, sad, hurt or maybe ashamed and embarrassed ?

 

I have worked with so many clients who are victims of such manipulation and I admit it frustrates me and even angers me, and makes me sad when I see how it affects them. It is painful to see their pain.

 

I have  always been focused on helping people find their voice, learn to speak their mind and set boundaries to protect themselves from people who would take advantage of their trusting and adapting natures.

 

However, that focus turned into a passion a few years ago when I lost a twenty year old client to suicide. I had worked with her for two years but I was never able to convince her to take steps to press charges against her father who was always her hero, but had turned into an abusive man, physically, sexually and emotionally molesting her body and her spirit. Yes, he was a narcissistic sociopath, but she refused to see that.  She trusted and believed in him so much, and prayed that he would return to being her loving hero of a dad. I was so angry, that it took almost two years for me to be able to talk about it without choking-up.

 

Admittedly since then, that passion has become somewhat of an obsession that has caused me to react more strongly and openly  to any form of manipulation of one person by another, especially when the manipulator is obvious in his or her efforts to establish a trust, a bond only to use it as a means to take control for their own private agenda.

 

Lately, with all the political debates and advertisements flooding the airwaves, I found myself feeling some of that anger, feeling that inner turmoil as I watched what was another form of manipulation and control happening to many good people in our great nation. I have heard lies, name calling, character assassination, and open efforts to portray good people as evil and campaign ads that are obviously edited to promote what they want us to believe and distract us from the truth.

 

” It’s just politics” they say ! Really ? Do you really believe the words and promises or just WANT TO so much that you close your mind to the painful truth. It is manipulation ! It is an effort to say anything necessary, promise hope and change, create a dependency all in order to fulfill their agendas. It is a degrading but true picture of what has become of our countries moral compass. It is becoming the norm, almost as if it is acceptable.

 

I hope more people recognize what is happening and find their voice. We are not sheep, but we are being led down a path that is self-destructive.

 

As a people, we should definitely be there to help others who are sick or injured and cannot work. Those who have worked their whole lives deserve “reasonable” benefits. But the ever growing numbers of people who are able to justify living off the system when there is no reason other than the fact THAT THEY CAN, is just another sign of our decay. Have we become so selfish that we can rationalize using the system when we are capable of working and contributing to the system as others have done. How about hand-ups instead of hand-outs ? How about focusing on creating jobs so people can feel the pride of accomplishment instead of dependency ? Or is it too late ?

 

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

 

 

 

Free On-Line Support Groups: OneStepataTime.com

 

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Are We Self-Destructing ?

by on Oct.15, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

Let me say first, that politically, I am an Independent. I try to sift through the games, lies and empty promises by either party, and make every effort to see who has a record or history of  just possibly doing what is good for the people and not just what enables them to secure rather plump salaries and benefits.

As a psychologist, I have  always been concerned at the obvious trend I have seen month by month, year by year, where more and more people are able to justify and rationalize living off the system.

There are those who have worked all their lives and expect to be the recipients of Social Security and Medicare. I certainly understand that expectation, as they feel they have earned it. There are no guarantees, however they have  invested in these programs and pray they are there when they need it.

Then there are those who suffer from “legitimate” physical or mental health issues that prevent them from being able to work. I have no arguments there. As a civilized people, we should be there for those who are truly in need.

However, there are growing numbers of adults, and yes children who are seeking and successfully securing Social Security Disability monies, free lunches and other Medicaid benefits who have no reason to not be working, but in fact do justify in their own minds that they are entitled. The sense of entitlement that these individuals have is deeply entrenched and very resistant to change. They are scamming the system. Entitlement is a growing problem that without change, will bury us.

Please understand, I have solidly backed clients who truly need and deserve Disability or other services. It has taken up to two years for some of these very deserving individuals to get services because the system is so broken down as it chokes on the volume of those who would scam the system.  I had one client with chronic heart issues wait almost two years and go through multiple appeals, only to die a few months after being finally approved.

We have a motto in our practice that appears on every peace of our stationary that reads, ” Helping People Help Themselves ! ”  The KEY is that they are aware of and willing to take steps to change. Catering to those who have entitlement  issues only creates more DEPENDENCY ! That dependency weakens them, damages their self-esteem and if and when you try to remove entitlements, they will become angry and defensive. We are definitely headed down that path.

There is a trend that shows a gradual but undeniable deterioration of the work ethic in our society. Well, there are probably a host of reasons for that, but one that strikes a chord with me is that each generation breeds more and more individuals who are not taught a work ethic by their parents. More and more children are spoiled. I have heard from teachers that by eighth grade, some children with learning issues tell their teachers they are not worried because their parents are telling them they can get on the Disability rolls.

Secondly, there are more  entitlement options and programs offered with no requirement that individuals work for what they receive or those requirements are not enforced. It has been shown rather clearly that there is no way that the Government can adequately manage these programs. Big Government has created a monster and that monster is eating us alive.

Again, allowing people to scam the system ends up causing a deterioration of self esteem in those people. Too many become addicted to self-destructive thoughts because they are not feeling any sense of worth and value. Obviously, there are some who do not care, but I do not believe they are the majority.

I am not blaming Democrats or Republicans specifically as this is what has been happening gradually to our society for many years. Politicians are too often focused on their own need for power and control. There are signs that some politicians are narcissistic and even sociopathic types who have agendas that we do not want to believe exist. I will vote for the man or woman who has the strength of character to do what needs to be done to turn things around. I pray { oops, can I say that ?} that by November, there might be a glimmer of hope for real change, with a leader who demonstrates that he has the courage to truly lead us out of the ashes of our self-destructive behavior.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

On-Line Support Group: www.OneStepataTime.com
Blog: www.RuledByFear.com
Office: www.BenhavenCounseling.com

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I Use to Pray for Rain !

by on Sep.17, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

I listened very intently as she expressed both her excitement over her progress, but realization that even a few days of avoiding anything stressful, including the homework I had given her, caused her to doubt herself and, yes, feel some of those pangs of anxiety and panic.

Her homework was to face her fears, every day taking steps to face the situations where panic had occurred. We broke the steps down into very reasonable bites, and they were steps that she could adjust so she felt more in control.

She had in fact, allowed her anxiety to take control of her life. She had been housebound, what we call agoraphobic. She could not shower, so was reduced to a sponge bath at the bathroom sink. She could not wash her hair, which was not onlya hygiene issue, but an especially devastating state of affairs as she had always been so proud of her appearance, and one of her special treats was to have her hair cut and styled once a month. So then, although in her early forties and reduced to living with her parents, she was all but a prisoner in her apartment. Her ” fear of fear ” had grown to the point that she had no faith in herself to do much of anything, I am sure this is very hard to understand for someone who has never experienced panic attacks, but it has become very common to see in my practice.

If only she or those around her that loved her and were witness to her initial slide onto the abyss of anxiety, and then depression, would have seen to it that she entered effective therapy at the time of onset. Unfortunately, she was an adult when all this began, when she first experienced panic attacks, and in her mind, the answer was medication. Pills might have reduced some of the anxiety, but it did not get to the sources for the panic, so after an initial few weeks of improvement, she relapsed even further into her fears.

I was witness to that slide into hell, but could not stop it from happening as she would not embrace therapy or face the needed changes in her life. Oh, there were causes for the panic attacks. Overprotective parents, a heavy dose of intrusive behavior on the part of the mother, some paternal physical abuse, and a boyfriend who actually reinforced her dependency on him due to his own insecurities, all led to her feeling weak and very emotionally conflicted. Now that she had become so dependent, there was no way she could truly imagine being otherwise, although she was so depressed as to what her life had become.

I was more than thrilled when she contacted me and said, ” Coach, I am ready ! I cannot stand this any longer. I got rid of the boyfriend, I am setting boundaries with my parents, I am on very limited medications, and I want a life !
I felt something had truly changed. I actually could sense that her pain at giving up her life had come to a point that it was over-riding her fears of making changes. She was angry, and we could use that anger to challenge each fear, step by step.

Over the ensuing weeks, she took steps to face her fears. She challenged her fears and was able to shower. Within two weeks, she was washing her hair. Recently, after practicing just sitting in her car, realizing she was not going to die no matter what anxiety she experienced, and focusing on the fact that there were still many things she could do, and wanted to do in her life, she drove that car, at night, to a Burger King. Can you imagine how HUGE that was for her ? If she can do what she has done so far, although commonplace for many others, there is no limit as to what she can do if she continues to guard herself from people who would abuse, manipulator control her, if she would refuse to compromise away who she is and what she wants just to please others, and if she continues to face her fears in steps that SHE controls.

“Coach, I use to pray for rain. On those days I felt I had an excuse to go nowhere, and felt less guilt. I tried to convince myself that when the weather was better, I would try to embrace life again. Now for the first time in so long, I really think I can have a life ! ”

I hope this true story encourages at least one other person imprisoned by their anxiety, to seek help, embrace the needed changes, and take back their life.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

BenhavenCounseling.com

Blog: RuledByFear.com

www.OneStepataTime.com

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Dependency Makes Me Weak !

by on Aug.05, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

What is Dependence?
Dependence is basically the act of leaning on others, rather than doing things yourself. There’s a time for dependence (when we’re learning) and there’s a time for independence (to branch out on your own).

I was talking to a very special young lady of thirteen recently, and we were discussing all the great experiences and the feelings of safety that she now has in her life. She was a “homeless child” from about the age of ten until twelve, and I mean totally on her own to face her day to day survival. No father or mother. No one to depend on, no one to count on. Her immediate goals were to find food and a maybe find a safe place to sleep at night.

I know it is hard to believe, but I know it was true because I would talk to her almost daily while she was on the streets. She wanted so badly to find a home, and she allowed me to help her. She worked so hard to get off the streets, as something inside of her drove her forward against so many obstacles. I was truly amazed at her fortitude and perseverance.

So, one might think, now that she is in a family and has been adopted, all is good in her new world. And, to be sure, she is very appreciative of her new family and new life.

However, as we talked recently, she shared with me one very important point that has her scared. She is realizing that the longer she is off the streets and has left that life behind her, she has felt weaker as she has realized her potential for dependency.

She never felt dependent before. She was scared, but she was strong and resilient.
She had to fight many battles being on the streets, but she did what she had to do and KNEW she could do whatever it took. She had faith and trust in herself, because she saw she could survive. Even as she decided she needed to get off the streets, she saw herself take on the steps needed to do that. She reached out to me. We created a plan together. But, it was her alone that took the steps we discussed. She never would allow herself to be dependent on me. “Tell me what I need to do, but then let ME do it. I do not want anyone controlling my life”.

Now that she was in a loving home, her fear of becoming  dependent truly scared her. There were so many things she had come to love like her new parents and siblings.
Hot meals and a mattress to sleep on, and her own room. However, she also witnessed weakness around her. She saw people doing harm to others and no one doing anything about it. Why would a person still be with another person who hurts them, says ugly things, treats them badly ?  On the streets, if you hurt somebody, there were consequences. There were rules of survival. There were territories, even for dumpsters to find food. So you found another source of food, another dumpster. You did what you had to do ! But in some way, you still felt strong knowing and seeing that you did get through another day.

But in the civilized world, she saw people freely giving up their independence, accepting so much less than what they wanted.

People in unhappy relationships, but settling.

People in jobs they hated, but accepting they could do no better.
People who are being abused emotionally, physically or sexually, and no one doing anything about it.

People going on disability who are not sick. People on food stamps and who are capable of working.

“ I do not want to become weak. I do not want to be dependent in that way. That is not why I wanted to get off the streets. I do not want to lose my pride, my edge. “

I predict that this young lady is going to do great things !

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist. Coach

Blog : www.RuledByFear.com

Newsletter and Support Group: www.OneStepatatime.com

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A Child Abused, What Would You Do ?

by on Jun.08, 2012, under STOPPING ABUSE

This trip to San Clemente was another eye-opener. I came here to spend time with my grand-kids, but also to research and work with organizations that attempt to help children who are being abused, emotionally, physically and sexually, and often all three. I have found some very active organizations that work hard to serve these children, and one in particular worth mentioning  is the Center for Community Services in San Diego. Of course, my talking about these kids or some of the special people who are out there trying to serve these kids in need does little to help the problem, because  most people are aghast when they hear about a child suffering abuse, but because it is so uncomfortable a thought, it gets shoved away somewhere in the deeper recesses of the mind.

On the other hand, if you would go to the CCSSD web site and actually go to one of their functions, actually ask questions and get involved, you may get hooked ! I am not talking about just throwing money at the problem, although that would help, but REALLY getting involved. No matter where you live, you can go to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website. So many who would abuse children get away with their heinous deeds because of the lack of outcry and support.

When there is domestic abuse, to me one of the worst types, it is often covered up by parents, or dealt with internally by the family without bringing in appropriate services. The issue is often that of not wanting to bring shame upon the family. ” We thought we could handle it “, is what I have heard. While any child being abused is totally unacceptable, when it is a parent, sibling, or other relative who is the abuser, it is especially ugly and harmful because the abuse is done by someone loved and trusted. Think how that screws with the mind of a child. Who in the child’s world can be trusted !!! How does it feel as an adult when one feels there is no one to be trusted ? But a child !!!

One of the last cases I worked with that is a horrible example of what can happen is a 19 year old who was raped on a college campus. Well, you might say, that is not a child. However, her reactions to the rape and the fact that the incident went unreported by the young lady because her father forbid her to say anything to anyone, sent off alarms in my mind. This young lady shared with me because there was no one else she could trust to share with, but all my attempts to find her therapy and appropriate guidance was met with, “No, my dad would kill me.” Yes, my radar was functioning at full power and I gradually drew out of this child that she had been physically and emotionally abused by her dad since she was about fourteen, and within the last year, he began crossing the line sexually. In hopes that her father would eventually stop hurting her and love her again, she forbade me to expose him.

I cannot go into any more detail, first because this is a case I am still working on, and secondly because the details would turn your stomach into knots.
I was able to get her to leave her home and go to her Uncle and Aunt for protection, but even they could not deal with the evil behavior of her father. Out of fear and shame, they kept silent and actually allowed the abuse to continue under their own eyes. Without anyone willing to press charges, my hands were tied. This young lady ended her life at 20, as the only way to escape her abuser. I will forever be haunted by the fact that there was nothing I could do, but i would hope that a few of you may also be haunted by the picture that might be forming in your minds of this young lady’s ordeal, and that you will get involved in your community. Contact CCSSD if in San Diego, or go to  the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence  and see what programs and services exist in your state, in your backyard, Yes, your backyard because domestic violence happens ever hour of every day in just about every community in our so-called civilized society.

Don’t AVOID ! Do something that will add even more meaning to your life ! Do something to help protect these kids.

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Coach

Blog:  www.RuledByFear.com

Website/ Newsletter / On-Line Support Group : www.OneStepataTime.com

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Selfish, Self-Serving and Abusive

by on May.20, 2012, under STOPPING ABUSE

As I read my last Blog entry entitled ” Fear…It Rules Our Lives !”, I almost did not publish it as it seemed to harsh, even for me.

I wrote in Sunday, but held off publishing until Monday with the idea that I might soften it up a bit.
Then, I got an awakening slap across my face as I received an urgent e-mail from one of the kids I have worked with for three years. She is a very special child who once lived on the streets by herself at eleven and twelve years of age. Could you imagine yourself or one of your kids surviving that ordeal ? If you have followed my Blog at www.RuledByFear.com , then you might be aware that this child adopted me as her grandfather, a title that I see as an honor. This young lady worked so very hard and against all odds to get off the streets.

She was abused so badly on the streets, yet maintained her efforts to get off those back alleys and street corners, and have a life. I admired her efforts and together, we found a path for her to now find herself in a loving home.

But then the slap ! ” Grandpa, my other grandpa just did something horrible to me !!!” I won’t go into details because it makes me too angry and distracts me from what needs to be said here.. But it is what it is ! It took me more than two hours to open her up to tell me what happened. She totally blamed herself for being STUPID ! She has again been a victim of sexual abuse, and her parents and I are going to again begin to pick up he pieces. Makes me sick, and my heart is still heavy. She feels like she is a marked person, as most victims feel.

Yet, the only thing she really did was open her heart to someone because she so wanted to be loved, accepted and to feel she belongs. She knew he was a difficult man who had previously acted as if he did not like her, and saw her as an intrusion into their family. She thought that since he was family, she would just have to try harder to get him to love her.
She had NO idea what he had in mind.

At some point, her abuser realized he could take advantage of her want for love and approval and he played  her like a fiddle. He said all the right things. Took walks with her and listened to her imaginative stories. He played on her sympathies as he had lost his wife a few months back. Then, when he was done with her, he told her that no one would believe her and that he would tell stories about how she wanted him to do things to her. Anyway, she was just a bad seed and would end up back on the streets ! Oops, I am getting angry again.

Sure, steps will be taken to have the abuser face consequences for what he did to an already fragile, now fourteen year old child, but the man’s selfishness and self serving act is another scar on this child’s life, marring her ability to ever trust again. Beyond that, she wonders why God is punishing her. She asks, “Did I do something to deserve this ?”

Typical of many children, but also adults who are victims of sexual abuse, this child felt shame for not realizing she was being played. She described a “black slime” inside of her, a combination of feelings of guilt, shame and anger toward the abuser, but more toward herself for being so blind.

Can you even imagine what it will take on her part to ever trust again ? We have begun the process of releasing that “black slime” by allowing her to vent, by helping purge the anger and to realize SHE  did nothing wrong, but want love. We have prayed and sang her favorite spiritual songs to help her remember that she is loved by her family and by her God.

She does have much to learn about love and trust, and about the evil agendas that lurk in the hearts of some who can justify and rationalize through their warped thoughts, their selfish unbridled needs and malicious deeds. But then, don’t many of us have critical issues to learn about needs for approval and love ? Don’t many of us find ourselves victims of emotional, if not physical and sexual abuse, because all we really are looking for is that approval, that sense of belonging, that craving for someone we can really trust? Don’t many share those same needs and therefore find themselves vulnerable as targets for abusers ?

Can she be loved for who she  really is, for what is in her heart, or only for what she can do to satisfy the cravings of the another ?

Well, I will be busy doing my part to glue her back together, hoping I can find a little bit of that old “fight until you win ” attitude that led her off the streets, but please pause to think about how many children are abused every day. See what YOU can do in your community to have a voice for these kids. And realize that the dark side is out there, it is real in way too many people, whether they be father’s , mother’s and sadly, grandpas.

Get involved with anti-abuse groups like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence . Don’t just sit there, DO SOMETHING !!!

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

Any thoughts or questions ?

Please share !

Remember my Blog, www.RuledByFear.com

Also, to receive our free weekly newsletter, or have the opportunity to join our free on-line Support group on Sunday nights at 9 PM, ET, go to www.OneStepataTime.com

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