When Fear Rules !

Tag: Abuse

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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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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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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Fear…It Rules Our Lives !

by on May.14, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

Fear…It Rules Our Lives.

None of us can escape the effects of fear. In the Big Picture, most fear death or suffering. However, on a more day to day basis, fear pops up and rules much of our lives at either a conscious  or subconscious level. Fear creates a sense of being out of control in some way, and we certainly do not enjoy that sensation

Our fear of rejection, failure, embarrassment and retaliation play havoc in our lives as it snuffs out or limits many of our efforts to stretch, try new things, speak our minds,  and allow us to truly feel more “in control” of our lives.

There is a dark side in people, yes all of us. I know, we do not like to think that of ourselves, but really, we have dark and angry thoughts about others. We might gossip and say hurtful things about another person. We might justify and rationalize anything from cheating a little on taxes, driving over the speed limit, and of course cheating in relationships.
Hopefully, many of us have a conscience that keeps that dark side at bay, or at least recognizes the need to pull the reigns in on our behavior when it crosses that imaginary line where guilt. shame or fear of consequences awaits to pounce.

But the reality is sadly evident that not everyone has that degree of conscience. I see so many of my clients suffering from the emotional conflict which leads to anger, which leads to guilt for allowing their dark feelings out as they have been victims of needy, abusive, manipulative or controlling people. That is a mouthful ! But the fact is that many severe anxiety or panic attack symptoms and obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors are symptoms people experience because they do feel emotional conflict in their lives. One frequent source of such emotional conflict is when we allow, yes I said “allow” people to use and abuse us. We feel anger when people do harm to us, but even more so, we often feel anger with ourselves for being suckers, or gullible in the face of the users and abusers.

For many of us, our want for approval and acceptance, our desire for community, to belong, and our need for validation by others causes us to be sitting ducks for those who recognize  our adapting, conscience oriented natures.

How can we take control ?

First, realize the truth that not everyone has the same morals and ethics, i.e., conscience.

Secondly, recognize the users and abusers in your life.

They may be the “needy ones”,the users, who you know are selfish, self-absorbed, habitually blame everyone else for the ills of the world, but never seem to be there when you infrequently need them.They can make up stories to defend their positions, and come to believe those stories to be true even in the face of contrary evidence. They can be extremely defensive and try to turn the tables on you by using guilting tactics. Do you know anyone like that, hmmm ?

Then there are the “controlling and manipulative ones” who prey on their knowledge that you seek approval and acceptance. They can be charming, and are often quite bright and astute at using shame, guilt and veiled threats as tools to get you to succumb to their wishes. They often try to divide and conquer by saying things to cause you to doubt people in your support system, because they know if they can separate you from the crowd, you are more vulnerable. That’s the “divide and conquer game”. They can lie without flinching, without as much as a bead of sweat. They come in all different sizes and from mild to severe degrees of evil intent. It may be the stock broker who swindles you, a boss who sexually harasses you, or the full out sexual, physical or emotional abuser.

Most often, the adapting conscience-bound personality types, once abused by this type of damaged soul, will not say anything to their support people for fear of looking foolish and weak. Especially when physical, sexual and emotional abuse occurs, the abuser fully takes advantage of the shame and guilt routine to shut their victims up. One tactic the abuser may play out is to keep repeating the mantras, “You must have really wanted me to do this or you would have stopped me “. Or the classic, “Look how angry you feel, look at the dark side in yourself, see, you are no better than I am !”  Then of course there is the line, ” No one will believe you, and you will just end up feeling shame and guilt for what has happened, so you cannot tell anyone.”  Finally, and one of the ugliest games, ” You will not say anything because you know I would come back and hurt you or others that you care about. So just suck it up !”

So what can we do to protect ourselves ?

Take stock of the people in your life and remember step one and two above. Don’t be naive and gullible.

If you are dealing with one of the “needy ones”, start setting limits and boundaries as to if and when you interact with that person. You might respectfully approach that person saying that you are sharing what you honestly feel when he or she treats you that way,  and then give him or her an example of the behavior that is unacceptable to you. If that person seems to have insight into what you are saying and makes an effort to change, great ! If they repeat the hurtful behavior again, cut it off ! They are damaging to your self-esteem. And, that person will not change until they recognize consequences for their hurtful behavior, which seldom happens as too many just avoid saying anything. You may be doing them a favor by at least trying to help them face their sabotaging behaviors. However, don’t hold your breath.

Also, make sure you are spending time developing and nurturing other healthier friendships, so your fear of being alone or without friends dose not cause you to allow yourself to be an on-going victim.

When dealing with or recognizing the ” controlling-manipulative types”, remember…

Document things that are said and done with dates and times and verbatim notes.

Share your experiences with trusted friends and, a counselor, the police. DO NOT GO IT ALONE !

Remember the divide and conquer routine, the tactics to use shame and guilt ? The abusers lose their power when you share what you have experienced because they do NOT want to be exposed. You have nothing to be ashamed about, but if you have a support system in place early on, as soon as you recognize who you are dealing with, you are much less likely to be emotionally  manipulated by the abuser as you feel the support and are reminded of the fact that you are not alone.

I have sadly dealt with many victims of sexual, emotional and physical abuse. Some of the worst cases have been domestic violence, abuse within families. Many have suffered more severe and long lasting trauma because they did not follow the above advice no matter how I pleaded. I know it is an uncomfortable topic, but to ensure your mental, emotional and physical well-being, you need to realize that the reality exists.

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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Emotional Pain is Real Pain !

by on Apr.21, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

So this child comes to see me because there had been a minor accident where the child had fallen down some steps and sprained an ankle. The child was in obvious pain, wearing a cast and on crutches. You might ask, why is this young child seeing me, a psychologist ? Isn’t this the domain of a medical  doctor or physical therapist ?

Then there was an adult client, about forty, who was experiencing increasing and unexplainable pain in the  hips and legs,  as well  as some numbness which caused  depression as it limited this person’s ability to perform normal daily activities.

Of course, I will never forget the thirteen year old child who would not, could not talk…since kindergarten. They called it Selective Mutism. About to graduate from eighth grade and make the transition to high school, this child was terribly fearful of being rejected and made fun of in high school, and that there would be no way to survive in that world without being able to talk.

In each of these cases, the clients were referred because there was no known reason for their pain or physical symptoms.

The fall that the child in the cast had experienced was over a year ago. Tests and examinations by the pediatrician and a neurologist found no reason for the physical pain over a year later.

The adult with the leg pains and numbness had been through every test known to man, and then some, but there was no known source for the symptoms, as real as they were.

And the child of thirteen with Selective Mutism wanted so much  to talk, and the doctors had no answers. This child had been to other therapists, but apparently, no one was listening.

All three of these individuals in pain were being thought of as fakers, malingerers, making up symptoms to get attention. Of course, there are many people who might fake pain for one reason or another, as that can be a means by which to avoid issues in their lives.

I certainly see my share of individuals who express physical and emotional symptoms, and yes, are faking it in order to make a case for being placed on Disability.
The only real pain they  feel is the whiplash as they are shown the door. There are way too many people who are truly suffering and need and deserve assistance. And our social security disability system is bent and yes, broken by the weight of malingerers and those that feel entitled, but with no cause.

But what if the pain was real !

Yes, and it was real in all three of these cases. After exploring the situations and life conditions of these clients, I came to the conclusion that I was dealing with Conversion  Disorder, where real physical symptoms in the form of numbness and pain were real, but caused more by emotional conflict or trauma, not medical or physical issues.

Emotional pain is REAL and can paralyze a person emotionally, let alone cause physical symptoms and pain.

In the case of the child who could not walk on the previously injured foot, this child  came into the last appointment without crutches and although wearing a brace, was putting full weight on the foot. We had talked about emotional pain, and as soon as I opened up the topic, there were tears welling up. Why ? Because the child had been bullied and felt rejection at the hands of a new student in school that my client had befriended, who then subsequently began telling lies about my client to cause my client’s friends to abandon this child and go to the bully instead. That caused significant emotional conflict and pain for this very sensitive child so that my client had not discussed what had happened and what was felt with anyone so as to avoid possible further rejection and embarrassment. The pain was real, but it  was emotional pain that migrated to the part of this child’s body that was most vulnerable, the previously injured foot.

The child who never talked is now talking non-stop ! Why ? Because, as this child finally felt respected and understood, the child learned that the emotional pain at being bullied and rejected in Kindergarten had caused the response of shutting down the ability to talk so as to not have to deal with the kids who were the source of the emotional pain.
So instead of feeling weak or “crazy”, the child understood what had happened and gradually took steps with me to free the voice from the emotional prison it had been enslaved in for over eight years.

The adult with the ever increasing leg pain has not yet faced the causal issues or the source of the emotional pain nor has the client realized the power of the mind it’s ability to convert emotional pain to physical pain and symptoms. I have a challenge ahead of me in that case.

How about you ? Do you have pain or physical symptoms not explained by a medical diagnosis ? On the other hand, is there someone you know and care about who is experiencing physical pain, and you have thought that she might be faking ?

I am just offering food for thought !

Gene Benedetto,
Psychologist

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Avoidance of Conflict

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

Avoidance Of Conflict

It is so very important to realize that there is almost always a reason why a person is having panic attacks, intrusive thoughts or obsessive worry with compulsive behaviors.

Certainly, trauma can cause these anxiety symptoms, but I rarely find that among the majority of my clients. Stress can surely add to the symptoms, but most often I have found that stress only aggravates the anxiety symptoms.

What I find in most cases is that personal conflict is typically the source. Whereas stress can come and go, conflict hangs over our heads until we deal with it.

Conflict ?

Yes, like feeling trapped in a go-nowhere job but avoiding taking steps to create opportunities to change for fear of failure or rejection.

Maybe feeling stuck in an emotionally, physically or sexually abuse relationship, but avoiding taking steps to remove yourself because of your fears of being alone, or the fear of retaliation.

How many times we want to express ourselves toward someone who is controlling, intrusive or manipulative, but end up avoiding and repressing what we feel.

Key word is avoiding, since avoidance effects how we see ourselves. Avoidance can cause us to feel weak, erodes our self-esteem and leads to our not trusting ourselves.
Of course, when we doubt ourselves, what do we do next ? We WHAT IF ourselves and then we avoid !

There is a reason why the more adapting and approval seeking personalities have more anxiety, panic and OCD symptoms. Their need for approval and want to avoid possible rejection or exclusion makes them fair game for the more manipulative people in the world. All you caregivers, conformers, peacekeepers and perfectionists are really good people but you need to learn to set boundaries with people who would  take advantage of your adapting natures.

In future blog articles, I will address some ways for each personality type to make changes so they might feel more in control, and thereby begin to take control of their anxiety symptoms. I look forward to your comments.

Meanwhile, take a look at our Blog at www.RuledByFear.com

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

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Afraid to Expose the Abuser ?

by on Mar.05, 2012, under STOPPING ABUSE

Afraid to Expose an Abuser ?

A young woman working at her first real good  paying job, but is being sexually harassed by her boss as are a number of other woman who work there. No one else has ever dared expose this supervisor even though the abuse  is done openly, with witnesses. “ I can’t afford to lose my job and not be able to make my house payment”.

A woman married 27 years is afraid to tell her husband how much it hurts when he puts her down, demeans her when she offers any suggestions. She fears his flare-ups of anger and is having panic attacks.

A young lady, just legally an adult, takes her life because it is the only way to escape the pain of her father’s sexual abuse. The thought of exposing him meant she would lose any chance of her father ever returning and being the man that once loved her and protected her,

Another young person is a victim of cyber bullying, and takes an overdose to deal with his pain.

Unless you are a victim of some form of abuse, you may not be able to fully grasp the effect that it has on one’s life. FEAR is paralyzing !

I can see the effect that the abuse has had on my clients. It is obvious  that being a victim of abuse can CHANGE a person, often creates issues in future relationships, demeans and effects self-esteem, and leads to anxiety symptoms including panic attacks, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive issues.

I have known that feeling. I had that feeling revisit me a few years ago when a sexually abusive father of the young lady I mentioned above threatened me with, ”You don’t know whom you are dealing with. I can destroy you !”

The point of this is not only how fear prevents us from exposing abuse and abusers, but how our not exposing the manipulative and controlling actions of others , especially when taken to abusive levels, empowers the abuser and weakens us in our own eyes.

I am sure you have heard it all before ! By avoiding the exposure of abusers, we give them more control over us. And yes, I understand the fear. But please understand how that avoidance effects you, prevents you in some cases from taking steps in your life that you always thought you would take someday, only to see that you opted for what was comfortable.

Abusers I have had contact with are insecure people with their own dark secrets who spend a lifetime hiding those insecurities with their ugly behavior. As an example, after being personally threatened in the example above, I did some long and involved investigative work, and detailed documentation, and I found that the father who molested his daughter to the point of her death had been exposed to homosexual activities as a child under the watchful eye of his own very abusive father. Do you think that might have caused some deep insecurities and a need to prove his manliness, leading to his needing to over-power and abuse woman ?

Avoiding the reporting of abuse of any kind is a life changer even as much as the abuse itself.

If their is or has been any sexual, physical or emotional abuse in your life, talk to your therapist.

Remember, abusers always try to divide and conquer. They want their victims to feel alone, and try to convince them that no one would listen to them anyway. Don’t hide the abuse any longer ! Build your support system between your therapist, organizations like NCADV { National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, The Nicole Brown Foundation,
Rape Crisis Hotline, an attorney, and EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunities Commission}, etc.

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