Climbing to the Top

 

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In a world filled with hateful and wicked people, let your light shine. Make a difference in the lives of those around you, lifting others up, praising and encouraging our loved ones and peers, and proactively changing our world for the better.

Pier M. Forni, author of The Civility Solution: What To Do When People Are Rude and director of The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University says, “In today’s America, incivility is on prominent display: in the schools, where bullying is pervasive; in the workplace, where an increasing number are more stressed out by coworkers than their jobs; on the roads, where road rage maims and kills; in politics, where strident intolerance takes the place of earnest dialogue; and on the web, where many check their inhibitions at the digital door.”

In a world filled with amazing technological advances, increased knowledge, answers at our fingertips, responses within seconds, and the ability to easily travel anywhere in the world, we still battle a centuries old plague. . . bullying.

Contrary to conventional belief, the targets of office bullies are not the new, inexperienced and less confident employees. The targets, according to research, are the highly competent, accomplished, experienced and popular employees because they pose the greatest threat to the bullies. And when bullies find targets that refuse to be controlled and intimidated, they escalate their behavior.

Not all forms of workplace bullying happen within the same office or company.  There are companies that bully their competitors, making it nearly impossible for the competing company to thrive in the same area. And I am about to tell you one such story. This has occurred between companies that I know of personally, however, I have changed the names to protect the individuals affected.

Mr. Fred is a Salesman with LiteBrite and he covers a large region of a few states. He works closely with toy companies in those states to ensure that they are getting the best products and best prices so that when they sell them to their customers they will still make a decent profit. Mr. Fred is not like your usual salesman, he is honest and goes out of his way to help everyone in his region. And he treats everyone equally, because in helping them achieve success, he’s also going to be successful. So, everyone wins, right?

Not in the eyes of Mr. Gold, the top salesman for Luna Toys. He didn’t think that any of the other toy companies in his region should be allowed to sell LiteBrite. And because Mr. Fred won’t give in to his complaints and wishes to be an exclusive LiteBrite sales location, Mr. Gold began complaining to the top executives of LiteBrite. Mr. Gold was ruthless in his endeavor to ruin Mr. Fred’s good name, get him fired from LiteBrite, and also ruin possibilities for the toy stores in his area to sell LiteBrite.  Luckily, LiteBrite is very aware of Mr. Fred’s good character and so they did not give in to Mr. Gold’s wishes to have Mr. Fred fired. But it hasn’t stopped.  Mr. Gold has a vendetta to ruin business for all of his competitors, and he bullies them with lies, threats, spying, and accusing them of bad business.  In the end, he is the problem and someone has to put an end to the type of mentality that you can run over everyone along the way to get to the top.

I realize this may sound like a silly little story, but it is a real life scenario.  These situations occur in every walk of life, in every type of business situation, and many people are miserable in their jobs because of a workplace bully that will not put an end to their constant taunting.  Even if you defend yourself, show proof that you are not at fault, show proof that you are performing at your best, and prove yourself until you are blue in the face. . . the bully’s tactics will only become stronger. They will not cease until either you are out of the picture or they are gone.  One thing is for sure; the problem of workplace bullying will not go away anytime soon and may never be fully remedied until enough people call for a return to a culture of civility, and demand that governments and organizations take action. Truly successful people help one another along the road to success. When you walk all over everyone on your way to the top, there will be no one left to help you in your time of need or crisis. And believe me, those times will come.

Workplace bullying occurs in many different forms, on different levels, and from various ranks within a company. It may be a supervisor, a boss, a co-worker, someone in a different department, someone competing for recognition, someone competing for sales, or even an employee you first thought was a friend.  Bullying can show up in the form of harassment, degradation, sexual harassment, threats to take your job if you don’t do as they say, threats to get you fired if you speak a word of their bad conduct, and just plain bullying behavior that leaves you miserable and dreading to be near them. Many victims of workplace bullying, much like other types of abuse, are afraid to speak up for fear of not being taken seriously. The world is always ready to shame the victim for the way they are treated. But we have to step up and speak up to win the war against abuse. It’s time to come together in your office and speak out against the harassment that is taking place, encourage others to go to supervisors or HR departments to file a formal complaint. Nothing will change if we stay silent. It’s never too late to make a difference. Stand up for your rights. Stand up for the rights of others. Stand up for respect.

~Christa G.

When Trusting You is Killing Me

 

 

Trust . . . it’s a big one. It’s HUGE.

You cannot have a successfully healthy relationship without trust.

Without trust, doubt runs rampant.

Without trust, your mind can play games.

Without trust, you will not be able to respect the other person.

I married at the age of 19. I was young, naïve, and didn’t know the meaning of doubt. I didn’t know it was possible for someone who loved me, to lie and disrespect me.

“You need to tell your husband to stop emailing my fiancé,” came the demand from a man I had never met, nor spoken to.

“What? What are you talking about?” was my surprised response.

He then proceeded to read emails that he found in his fiancé’s archived messages, from my husband, in which he claimed I was a terrible wife, a lazy mother, and I never took care of anything.

I was flabbergasted. I was the exact opposite of all of the accusations he brought against me. And while there was no romantic evidence in those emails, there was only one intent behind him gaining her pity.

Even while writing about it, the memory of the adrenaline rush and utter disbelief came rushing back to me.

Covered in a cold sweat and fighting off nausea, I hid in the bathroom, curled up on the floor, and tried to keep myself from shaking to death.

He stood outside the door and begged for forgiveness, claiming he only said those things because he knew that he was guilty of them himself and it made him feel like a loser.

And so, I felt sorry for him, and that began a long line of excuses, tall tales, and undeserved forgiveness.

This was the first panic attack of many to come in later years. We had been married for 3 years, he had just returned from Iraq, and it was the beginning to a long, drawn out history of lies, cheating, manipulation, and verbal abuse.

This was the beginning of many years of misery, degradation, pain, tears, and depression.

This was the beginning of a million empty apologies and pleas for my forgiveness.

This was the beginning of me giving him the benefit of the doubt and allowing “one more” chance to make things right.

NO MORE . . . After 12 long years, I was finally able to put an end to the madness and left.

You can only offer your forgiveness so many times, before the emotional roller coaster of being let down over and over eventually takes its toll on your mental health.

Yes, most often, you have to take a leap of faith and allow yourself to trust. Just don’t allow your trust to be stomped on time and time again.

There is a time to heal and work on your relationship, and there is a time to put your foot down.

If you find yourself being asked for forgiveness for the same mistakes every time, then you must realize . . . they are no longer mistakes, but choices being made consciously. Knowing they will hurt you and knowing that you will forgive them.

Stand up. Stand Out. Stand Tall. Take back your life, find what makes YOU happy and do it!

~Christa G.

 

Stranger Danger

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Why do so many of us fall into a trap of being conned by those closest to us? Whether it be a sibling, a parent, a spouse, or a friend, we seem to be blinded by love or by their sweet words and promises. Yet from a young age, we are taught about “stranger danger” and to be wary of those trying to scam us out of our hard-earned savings or cheat us into buying a worthless car. We are told to never trust a TV evangelist or a door-to-door salesman. Our mothers are constantly warning us to never walk alone at night and always have mace handy. “Stranger Danger” is something that is preached to us at home and at school. In our mind, we are conditioned to believe that the most harm that can come to us is from a stranger. But the sad truth is, we can receive more harm from our “loved” ones.

Why is that? Why are we warned about the dangers of strangers over the dangers of those we think we know best? How long has society just accepted domestic abuse as a part of life? And how many of us have thought it would never happen to us or anyone we know?

For years, domestic abuse was a hush topic, even more so than it is today. Victims were blamed for the abuse or shamed for it. There were no laws or orders of protection that would help the victims. And there were no shelters. Hundreds of years ago, it was even legal for a man to beat his wife, just as he could beat his apprentices and children. In some areas of the world today, it is still a legal practice. This is because women and children were considered property. They had no individual rights and were solely dependent on the man who “owned” them. When women began to have more legal recognition and gained the right to vote or to own property themselves, then the law began to change its attitude toward domestic abuse. The first shelter for battered women was opened only as recently as 1973. And, even more recently, The Family Violence Prevention Services Act passed through Congress in 1984 (one year before I was born). So there’s probably many around my age or older whose parents never gave them a talk about domestic abuse.

I was never shown the Power and Control Wheel. Sure, I knew that domestic violence was totally a thing and definitely a danger to look out for. But I wasn’t told specifically what signs to watch for. I knew what attributes to look for in a man—responsible, caring, handsome, polite, and funny. The problem with that is, they all start out that way. They are charmers. They say and act exactly how they think you want them to and when they have you where they want, the truth seeps out. Little things, here and there. Little comments that begin to undermine your sanity. My ex, when we first started dating, claimed he loved to cook for those he cared about. He started out cooking all the time for us. Then it eventually morphed into him complaining that he always cooked for me. Then he tried to train me to cook for him. Then I could never cook right or cooked too loudly, waking him up while he was napping. In the beginning, he was on his best behavior.

In our mind, we are conditioned to believe that the most harm that can come to us is from a stranger.


My lack of education in regards to abuse was no fault of my parents, they also were not told of the dangers of verbal or physical abuse. And those that may have experienced abuse themselves, may have just assumed their abuser was a rotten egg. There was no information floating around in the cosmos, warning people of the pattern of abuse. There were no courses at school warning us of how damaging domestic abuse could be to ourselves and those around us. We were shown videos on how to say no to sex and drugs—don’t even get me started on my thoughts about the state of sex education in our schools. We were shown presentations on the dangers of drinking while under the influence. But there was never a presentation of domestic abuse, no questionnaire, no Cycle of Abuse diagram, no Power and Control Wheel, not even a pamphlet or brochure. I didn’t even know emotional abuse was a thing, until I googled it in an airport restaurant immediately after breaking up with my abusive ex-boyfriend. I had only ever heard of physical abuse. I did not realize emotional manipulation was something to watch out for in a relationship. I just thought some people could be shitty to one another. I had no idea that there was a name for it or that there was a clear pattern of behavior, or even the damaging effects it could cause both mentally and physically.

This needs to change. We have to educate our kids about abuse. The biggest danger out there can come from those we trust, those we let in to our lives. I don’t want our children to grow up fearing intimacy. I don’t want us to spread paranoia. The more information we give on abuse, the more informed our kids will be in making life-changing decisions. Let’s teach our children and the children in our communities that domestic abuse is no longer acceptable and we all have the power to stop it.

~Lindsey V.

Not Just a Statistic

 

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There I was again. Sitting. Alone. Crying. Over what? Most of the time I was left confused, and struggling to understand why I was being yelled at and degraded, yet again. What did I do to deserve this, was a question that constantly plagued my mind. This time was different. He had wrung out every last hope I had for us. I had been mistreated, disrespected, degraded, and neglected for so long I had no room to accept any more empty apologies. This time, I left for good.

As I sat across from a desk and listened intently to my lawyer, the severity of my situation quickly came to light. He strongly suggested that I get myself and my children into a Safe House until the situation died down. I had just explained to him the chain of events that had taken place over the last several years leading up to leaving my ex. My lawyer looked at my father and me with sincere concern. He stressed the fact that he had seen far less abusive situations, in which the estranged spouse had no history of domestic abuse, PTSD, or drug abuse, still end in tragedy. My ex possessed all of those histories. The realization of the possibility of becoming a statistic was chilling.

. . . 1 in 4 women will experience severe physical violence in their lifetime.

Against the suggestion of my lawyer, I opted to move two hours away from my ex, instead of staying in a Safe House. Besides, the Safe Houses near me were all full and I didn’t know about other organizations, such as ALIVE Inc. (Alternatives to Living In Violent Environments). So I moved in with my parents, and felt comfortable with the fact that we had some distance between us. After a year-long battle over debt, our divorce was finalized and I was able to get back to a normal life. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many victims of domestic violence. Too often, it ends in the death of an innocent person trying to break free from their abuser.

The CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention states that Intimate Partner Violence is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans and results in serious consequences for victims, families, and communities.

  • In an average minute, about 24 people are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
  • In 2010, 241 males and 1095 females were murdered by an intimate partner.
  • In one year, more than 12 million women and men reported being a victim of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
  • In their lifetime, 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) report experiencing severe physical violence (e.g., hit with a fist or something hard, beaten, slammed against something) by an intimate partner.

At first I was surprised to find that the Center for Disease Control would have a division dedicated to violence prevention. But as I began to think about all of the issues caused by abuse, it made perfect sense. Not only is domestic violence to blame for thousands of deaths and millions of injuries each year, it is also a main factor for mental health issues. Domestic violence leads to millions of people being diagnosed each year with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses. Help spread awareness, support your local safe houses, and let’s find a cure to end domestic violence.

~Christa G.

Speechless

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Not all abusive relationships are with intimate partners. Some happen between co-workers, friends, or siblings. And then there are the ones between parent and child. When we think about child abuse, we often think about the children that are beat, locked in closets, and starved. Verbal abuse is the most prevalent type of abuse, and it takes place without being recognized. Tonight we share one such story with you from the perspective of a teenager, who for safety purposes, wishes to remain anonymous. The first key to overcoming manipulation and verbal abuse is to recognize that it’s taking place. Here is a piece of her journey. . .

 

One blow after another shot straight into my chest and mind. I will admit, I wasn’t prepared at all. The words I had gathered up to say had all been blown to smithereens, leaving me hopeless, confused, and lost. I had been preparing the things to tell him the entire ride here, staring out the car window at the trees that blurred by. However, now my brain’s gears had stopped grinding, and I was left speechless. His refusal to let me speak my mind was like a rope keeping my thoughts and opinions at bay. My father always had to have things his way, and he had such a manipulative way of talking it was hard not to give in to his will. The conversations I had with him were like the most intense battle I had ever seen, and I lost every time. I don’t know if it was because of fear, if my game plans weren’t good enough, or if I just didn’t have the will to speak louder than before.

I guess I need to start from the beginning. My parents divorced when I was twelve, and I wasn’t that surprised or hurt by it. They had been arguing all my life, and I never saw my father much, because he was always away, either at work or in his room. Life hustled on like always, and I just went with it, going wherever the winds of fate blew me. However, I didn’t really agree with how my father decided to live his life. He had been smoking since he was in the army, which was when he was around eighteen or nineteen. I had tried to get him to quit for so long, and those turned into miniscule arguments on their own. The point was, when I tried to tell him my opinions, he always shrugged it off with a look on his face that said, “I’m always right, and nothing you say will contradict that.” I never wanted to feel that ashamed again, I was frightened of that feeling of error. I hated it, the feeling of a scorching face as covered lies were thrown at me. Even though they weren’t the truth, the way he twisted it around made it feel like they were. I wanted to speak back, but I couldn’t make out the words. I was too afraid of that feeling, but little did I know, he was too.

One heated argument has really stood out to me. It happened a few years ago, when I had just turned thirteen. I was in my father’s apartment. It was an extremely small basement apartment, with only two rooms and one bathroom. It had a tiny kitchen, which did not have an oven, and the microwave gave off a wretched smell when we used it. I was sitting on the ragged green couch in our living room when I got a text from my mother. I didn’t know that this small text would be the cause of my horrible embarrassment later on. The text read, “How are you guys doing? What are you up to?”

I answered truthfully, “We’re not really doing anything, Dad’s in his room asleep.”

She answered me back, “Okay, well, text me if you need anything.”

Little did I know, my mom was going to get on to my father about how he was asleep, when he should be spending what little time he had with us. I was on my phone for a little bit longer when my father stormed into the living room. He looked tired, but extremely frustrated and upset.

“Jenny! Why did I just get a text from your mother telling me I should be a better father?” He bellowed.

“I-I just told her that you were asleep . . .” I stammered. His glare was putting me in the position of a mouse trapped by a cat.

“You don’t need to tell her anything!”

I opened my mouth to say something, but he kept talking.

“This isn’t her house! She isn’t here anymore! You don’t have to tell her every little thing we do!”

“I’m really sorry, I didn’t think she would get that mad . . .” I apologized. He didn’t pay my apology any attention, and just kept ranting.

He shouted more and more, for what seemed like hours. I wasn’t really listening through half of it. Instead, I was hugging my pillow, trying to hide my tears. I tried blocking him out, pleading in my mind for him to just stop already. I understood, I was sorry, and I wanted it to end so I could go back to doing whatever I was doing before I got that stupid text! I tuned in a little bit to what he was saying now.

“I might just have you leave your phone at your mother’s house so you can’t contact her at all!” My father was threatening.

I felt outraged. That wasn’t fair at all! My cheeks felt like they were burning, but I couldn’t think of a word to say that he wouldn’t contradict. I racked my mind for any kind of phrase or sentence that might hit home to him. What if I told him it was unfair? No, he’d probably just say that telling Mom everything we’re doing is unfair. Thoughts of things to tell him raced through my mind, only to be shot down by my other ones. The result ended with me not saying anything. I just sat there, vulnerable, like a sitting duck. Speechless.

Eventually, his rant died down, and it was quiet. It was a horrible, awkward silence. I had so much to say, but I hid it, and he had run out of things to say. We kind of sat in that silence for a little while, until he just walked away. Leaving me alone to my thoughts.

Time passed and I was still on the couch, my face a little pink from the crying. My dad walked in, and tried to apologize. I forgave him, of course, because he’s my dad, and I love him. I know he loves me too, he just, has his days. I don’t think he’ll ever really understand my feelings, because I don’t think I’ll ever have the guts to tell him. I know, deep down, that I’m going to have to tell him eventually. However, I don’t think that time is now. I have told myself over and over, I’m just waiting for the right moment

Well, I think that moment might be soon, really soon, but I might need a little more time to think about what I’m going to say.

Leaving

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Leaving.

To go away from.

To leave, what may have been, the majority of one’s life behind.

To step out, into the unknown.

The first time I contemplated leaving my abusive relationship, I was met with a wave of uncertainty. The what ifs of life came pouring in and stopped me in my tracks. I would outweigh the pros and cons of becoming a single mom on almost a daily basis. I was basically a single mom already, so it all boiled down to being able to afford living on my own. What would everyone think of me, though? Everyone will think I’m taking the easy way out. They’ll think I didn’t try hard enough to save my relationship. They’ll blame me. But I eventually came to the point that everyone else’s opinion of me no longer mattered. The safety and well-being of myself and my children became more important to me than anything else.  But leaving isn’t easy. Leaving requires inner-strength, support, and help from family and friends. The process is emotionally draining and becomes a psychological “tug-of-war.” My mind was being pulled in so many different directions. I knew my relationship was toxic and causing serious mental health issues for myself and my children. I knew that the most logical thing to do was to leave. And I knew that all of his promises were empty and nothing would ever change, but I was still hypnotized with his pleas for another chance.

After leaving, the psychological “tug-of-war” continued. I was inundated with text messages every day. The messages would start out with proclamations of his undying love, but they would quickly change to hostile threats, messages that would never come from someone that loves you. In one message, he would claim he missed me and couldn’t live without me, and in the very next message he would call me a cold hearted b*%#h. He would call me terrible names simply for the fact that I wouldn’t respond to his cries for me to come back. He would send messages threatening to make sure I couldn’t get full custody of the kids, and messages threatening to make my life a living hell. He would send messages telling me that I would never find anyone as good as him and so on. These messages would last several hours every day, and became so overwhelming that my father hid my phone on a few different occasions. I was in an unfortunate circumstance of not being able to cut all ties because we had children together, and he had visitation rights.

During this time, I maintained a focus on the end result. I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and knew that it was only a matter of time before the “hate mail” stopped. Soon, I would be free. I would no longer be stuck on that dreadful “roller coaster” of misery. After a couple of months away from that toxic relationship, my friends and family could see a physical change in my demeanor. My happy and carefree spirit started to resurface, and my ability to find joy was no longer hindered by belittlement and antagonism.

All abuse, whether it be verbal, emotional, sexual, or physical, present detrimentally damaging effects in all victims. So, when you decide to take the giant leap to leave, it’s best that you have a plan in mind. Have a support system available to offer strength and help during the healing period, you will need it! Look up other blogs on abuse and read other stories about overcoming an abusive relationship. It helps to know that you’re not the only one that’s been through this, you are not alone. If you haven’t left yet and are considering it, be sure to delete browser history after looking up blogs on abuse, help links, hotlines, and crisis centers.  The Emotionally Abused Woman: Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself by Beverly Engel is a great book to help you leave an abusive relationship. Emotional abuse is often hard to detect and accept, it helps to have an objective perspective about what it is and how to deal with it. There are also crisis hotlines and abuse shelters everywhere. Search for one in your city if you need help getting away from an abusive relationship. In St. Louis, MO we have one organization in particular called A.L.I.V.E (Alternatives to Living In Violent Environments) that will go to whatever extent necessary to find a safe place for victims of violent abuse. Never be ashamed to reach out to them, they are here to help, no matter the extent of abuse.

Abuse is toxic to your mental and physical health. If you are in an abusive or violent environment, reach out to someone for help, come up with a plan to get to a safe place, and be prepared for the difficulties that will arise right after you leave. It’s best to completely cut all ties, but if you can’t, be sure to limit your conversation to only things that are necessary. And continuously remind yourself that it will get better! Eventually you will be free of their hold, you’ll feel liberated, whole, and happy again. Wait it out, don’t go back, you’ll thank yourself later…

~Christa G.

 

 

Break My Bones

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“You picked this gimpy shopping cart on purpose just to annoy me.”
“Why would you buy a car without me there to help you?”
“I take you out for lunch on your birthday and this is how you act?”
“Don’t be such a child.”
“You turn your back for one second and it burns!”
“You have anger issues.”
“If you gain weight, it’ll be in all the wrong places.”
“Can’t you just shut up and figure it out on your own?!”
“You’re wasting my time.”
“You’re boring me right now.”
“If you don’t do as I say, I will break up with you right now!”
“You’re incompetent and useless.”
“If you don’t like it, then stop reading my text messages.”
“That didn’t hurt! I nudged you, I didn’t kick you!”
“So what, now you’re gonna tell your family and friends that I abuse you?!”
“You asked for it!”
“It’s ALL your fault!”
“F&#K You!”
“You’re being a bitch right now!”
“You’re making me do this.”
“You’re just being a crazy c@nt!”
“Shut the f%#k up!”
“I’m not hurting you! How does this hurt?!”

Don’t let it get worse. End it . . . while you can.

~Lindsey V.

Addicted

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I don’t matter. My needs, my wants, my feelings, have all taken a back row seat to my partner’s need to feed his insatiable appetite for drugs.

Alone. Alone in my bed at night, alone with my thoughts, alone in my struggle to make a living.

The Man Cave. HA! More like Drug Cave. Lines of white powder, lines of crushed pain killers, broken ink pens, and powdery dollar bills. Everywhere.

What is happening? What has become of my life? When did I allow this evil to creep in and take control?

No more. It has to end or I have to leave. I’m drowning. Drowning in fear, in constant misery, in depression. Make it stop. Make him stop.

I don’t matter. Only the high matters to him. So I’m gone. I’m nothing.

. . . I would have been worn down to nothing . . . Eventually, his addiction would have destroyed us both.

Drug addiction is a need to satisfy a habit that is stronger than the urge to eat when you’re hungry. A need so greedy that everything else becomes non-existent. Some drugs are more intense than others, each yielding their own unique consequence, and each possessing the ability to change the addict’s personality drastically. Irritability, paranoia, depression, and irrational anger are just a few of the behavioral changes that accompany drug abuse. Chemical changes take place in the user’s brain which interfere with their judgement, ability to think clearly, control their behavior, or feel normal without drugs. People that abuse drugs are more likely to abuse their loved ones due to the adverse effects from using and the need to satisfy their high. According to the NCADV, 61% of domestic violence offenders also use/abuse substances. Often they try to blame their battering on being under the influence; however, substance abuse treatment does not “cure” abusive behavior. Their thought processes are highly irrational and even the tiniest irritation may throw them into a rampage. When you mix this issue with someone who already exhibits abusive tendencies, the behavior is exacerbated.

I had no rights to voice my opinion on his drug abuse, and when I did, I was met with ultimatums. If I wanted my partner to give it up, then I had to give up my occasional glass of wine. And by occasional, I mean once every few weeks I had a glass or two. In my opinion, it was entirely unfair. Some might have said that if I wanted my partner to quit badly enough, I would have given up my freedom to enjoy a glass of wine. Why? Why should I give up any legal freedoms in order to get my partner to stop doing illegal things which were destroying our lives? His ultimatum was a manipulation technique, another way for him to regain control over the situation. A way for him to justify his actions.

He said he was sorry. But the addiction to pain killers never stopped. I tried overcoming it. His family tried an intervention. I felt pressured to stay, to be another June Carter, a woman whose love was so powerful it cured her man’s addiction. But you can only try for so long, after that you are just enabling it. Some things never change. Some people don’t want to change. Some habits are too hard to break. And sometimes we need to open our eyes and see them for who they really are.

If I had stayed and tried again and again and again to be his June Carter, to be his whipping boy, to be his crutch, eventually I would have been worn down to nothing. Eventually, my depression would have been too much to bear. Eventually, his addiction would have destroyed us both. If there is anything that I want our readers to glean, it’s that sacrifice in the name of love is different than sacrifice in the name of selfish desire. At some point you have to learn to let go, for your own sake.

~Christa G.

Where It Begins

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Life. It holds so many uncertainties. So many inequalities. So many injustices. As a human race we are a profound, complicated, and diverse people. Some are driven by power and riches. While others are driven by love and the need to help others. What makes us so different? What drives one person to be hateful and yet another to be understanding? There are so many factors that affect our behaviors and frame of mind. The majority of those influences take place during our childhood, when every decision, situation, reward, and consequence molds us into the adults we eventually become. With that being said, will childhood bullies develop into abusive adults? It would seem the most understandable outcome, since bullying is a child’s way of exuding power and control over their peers. So then, are we wrong to assume that a child displaying bullying behavior will only continue to intimidate and abuse others later in life?

Most children who display bully-like behaviors are experiencing abuse themselves . . .


According to a study performed and published to the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, it has been confirmed that bullying as a child can be an early precursor to adult domestic partner violence perpetration, at least in men. The study was done in Boston and focused on men at three different community centers. The study suggests that men who exhibited frequent bullying in school were at a much higher risk for aggressive and abusive behavior toward intimate partners. Of course, this is only one study that took place among a group of men, confined to one area. However, this has been a question for years before any studies were recorded. Another study published in the September 2010 Psychiatric Quarterly states that adults with a history of bullying are 10 times more likely to lie than those with no history. The study also suggests that they have a higher likelihood of stealing and cheating. Concerns are, of course, not limited to men that were bullies. There are plenty of girls known to have bullied their classmates, as well.

So where do we begin?  Is it possible to rectify the behavior of a bully in order to prevent abusive tendencies as an adult? We must first look at the environment of the child in question. Most children who display bully-like behaviors are experiencing abuse themselves, or they are witnessing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) between their parents. Unfortunately, without just cause or evidence that those children are in danger, they cannot be removed from those situations. It’s up to us to help inform children, at their young and impressionable ages, of what abuse looks like and how it affects others. Parents that have children in school can look into what programs are implemented to prevent bullying. And if you don’t have a child in school, but you want to help raise awareness you can look into programs being used in your local school districts. Are the programs effective? What can the community do to help promote them? What programs are being applied that are also available to parents and community members? How can we better a child’s home environment? These are just a few small steps to get where we need to be. It takes action to get a reaction, and we want that reaction to be a decrease in the amount of bullying taking place among our children. In turn, we will see less IPV in the future.

I recently became aware that my 13-year-old son is dealing with bullies at his school. It is incredibly alarming to know that these boys are subjecting him to belittlement, humiliation, and rejection. The mental deterioration that takes place during abuse can be devastating. I have taken action and scheduled counseling sessions for my son. This allows him the ability to express his feelings to someone in order to gain an understanding that he is not worthless, dumb, or ugly as these kids make him feel. But what of the bullies? They also need guidance. They need an understanding that their behavior is not okay and could possibly lead to harsher behavior as an adult. Domestic violence awareness and our fight to end it starts with our children. It starts in our schools. It starts in our communities. It starts with our future generation. We will never see an end or decrease in abuse until we stop the behavior before it begins.

I urge you to stand up in your community. Make your voice heard. For the sake of our children, put an end to bullying. We need to make a difference, we need to fight to end abuse, and we need to start where it begins.

 

~ Christa Gayle

 

 

Shades of Insanity

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“You’re being completely crazy! Have you been taking your medication?!”

This was a regular occurrence for me in a past relationship. If I came across the hint that drug use was becoming an issue for my partner again, or that he was hiding something, I would raise questions about it only to be met with accusations of over-analyzing the situation. I just needed to calm down and make sure I was taking my anti-anxiety medication as prescribed. All those years I really thought I was overreacting, that I was the one with the problem. I was the one prescribed anti-anxiety medication to keep from having panic attacks when I would get upset. I was the one being treated for anxiety, not him, so then I really was crazy!

This was life with a psychopath.

They use their charm and manipulation to get what they want from everyone around them. They mold themselves into the person that they need to portray, in whatever situation they are in, in order to gain control. I had been manipulated to the point that I still question my intuition and sanity today, years after being out of that relationship.
The pain is still so vivid. I question myself daily. I question everyone daily. I question my gut feelings daily. Am I being overly analytical and crazy? Or are these fears normal? Do I have the right to question their activities? Do I have the right to question whether or not they’re telling me the truth? The struggle is real guys, and it’s extremely difficult to overcome. The constant strain on my mind, trying to overcome my own internal struggles, weighs me down and steals my joy. How do we overcome it? How do we take back our lives and the happiness that is so rightfully ours? We can’t depend on other people to make us happy, we have to look to ourselves. Dig deep and discover what makes us happy. Know that if in your gut you sense something is wrong, then your instinct is almost always right.

So, while it’s completely understandable that we suffer from a plethora of mental health issues after years of abuse, we also need to realize that we can’t use them as a crutch. Eventually we need to be able to move on with our lives. Build healthy relationships. Learn to trust again. Learn to live again. Learn to love again. And just in general, learn to be happy. It takes time to heal from emotional scars, sometimes years, and sometimes people never fully heal. Along the way to healing, we need to stay aware and keep in mind all of the red flags that let us know things aren’t healthy and we need to step back and analyze the situation. When looking at your relationship through a different lens, keep in mind these key signs that you could be dating a psychopath:

When you first meet them they shower you with flattery, displays of affection, and declarations of traits that make you both perfect for each other.

They prey on your emotions with stories to make you feel sorry for their past experiences. Whether with an ex, a co-worker, family member, or friend. They are always the victim in every situation of their life. You’ll quickly have a soft spot for them, they’ve used their charm so effectively that they have you hooked.

Now that you’re hooked they begin to create situations purposefully to make you jealous. They begin to surround themselves with people who provide them with added attention. They want you to know that they are wanted by everyone. So you better not slip up because they have plenty of admirers to fall back on.

Eventually you’ll come to the point that you begin to see through their behaviors. You’ll begin to question their activities, you’ll confront them about it and you’ll be met with accusations that you’re crazy. They are master manipulators and will rewrite reality in front of you, turning the situation around, making it appear to be your fault. They condition you to believe that the problem isn’t the abuse itself, but instead your reactions to their abuse.

They will accuse you of feeling emotions that they are intentionally instilling in you. They will call you jealous after blatantly flirting with an ex on social media, for the world to see. They’ll call you needy after ignoring you for days on end. They use your reactions to garner sympathy from other targets, trying to prove how irrational and crazy you are.
You notice that there is always an excuse for everything. They constantly blame others, it’s never their fault. They will spend more time justifying their behavior than improving it.

Eventually you won’t recognize your own feelings. Your natural tendencies for love and compassion have been replaced by uncontrollable panic and anxiety. You may even resort to taking anti-anxiety medication, as I did. You apologize on a regular basis for things you didn’t do and cry more than any other time in your life. After being broken down by an abuser, you will feel crazy, emotionally exhausted, empty, depressed, and worthless. Don’t let it come to that. Pay attention to the signs and get out before they drag you down the gutter.

 

We can’t depend on other people to make us happy, we have to look to ourselves.

 

The signs are there—in every situation, relationship, and circumstance in our lives. Pay attention, take notes, learn to trust your instincts, and know that no one has the right to belittle you, call you names, or beat you (men and women alike). Regardless of what you think your actions were that prompted their bad behavior, they are not a justification for them to hurt you. Abuse is real. Abuse is painful. Abuse is life-wrecking. There are options, there is help for you, and you can be saved. Please reach out to someone today if you can relate to anything in this post. Everyone deserves happiness!

~Christa G.