PA Man and I have three…THREE of these problems!! The only one that doesn’t pertain to us…addiction!
This is an eye opener.
PA Man and I have three…THREE of these problems!! The only one that doesn’t pertain to us…addiction!
This is an eye opener.
“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.”
― Henry Cloud
I LOVE this quote!
I came across this and thought it was SPOT ON!!!!
Abuse and Empathy: How Abusers Flunk the Empathy Test
JEFF CRIPPEN ♦ NOVEMBER 12, 2012 ♦ 84 COMMENTS
The very first book I bought and read when I began my quest to study abuse was Physical Abusers and Sexual Offenders [*affiliate link] by Scott Allen Johnson. It is not a Christian book. Johnson’s thesis is that therapists and researchers have erred in not realizing that these two forms of abuse are very often linked in the same abuser. Physical abusers are often also sexual abusers. This is a fantastic book and I wanted to summarize one chapter for you in which Johnson explores empathy. This is great stuff, so hang on and here we go:
Generally, abusers do not have empathy. This is an important fact which can help a victim discern if he or she is being abused. A correct understanding of empathy (which the Bible so often calls “love” and sometimes “repentance”) can be a hugely freeing help for victims of abuse. Johnson notes that empathy has three characteristics:
Cognitive Recognition – this is simply the basic, bare-bones ability to understand what empathy is by definition. An abuser can very well mouth the words that define empathy and even admit that not having it is a bad thing.
Emotional Connection – Here we mean the ability to step into another person’s shoes and identify with their feelings of confusion, pain, shame or fear that abuse produces. It entails an understanding of the damage that his abuse effects. Depending upon the scale or spectrum that a particular abuser is on, from less abusive to all out sociopath, the abuser may or may not have the ability to emotionally connect. As Christians, we realize that genuine love for another human being necessarily entails feeling what the other person feels. That is one reason the Bible tells us about the shame and grief and suffering of the Man of Sorrows as He became our Redeemer.
Behavioral Demonstration – What Johnson means here is “faith without works is dead.” This element of empathy impels a person to alter their behavior so as to not hurt and abuse others. Johnson says, “Believing that your behavior is abusive…yet continuing to verbally abuse your partner, actually demonstrates that you do not believe that abuse is wrong. In fact, your abusive behavior demonstrates loud and clear that you do believe that abuse is appropriate in certain situations. If you have true empathy, then you do not abuse your partner for any reason.” (p. 65)
Johnson then proceeds to identify visible behaviors that are the fruit of genuine empathy. These include:
Allowing the victim to vent. In other words, the abuser will sit and be quiet and let his victim explain, even at length and with a spectrum of emotion, what the abuse has done to her. And he will not object to her venting this to other people such as her family and friends and church. Victims, if they are to heal, need to tell others, including their abuser, how they have been harmed and damaged. An abuser, if he is truly repentant and practicing empathy, will not object to this.
Patiently permitting the victim to vent and talk when triggered by later events, even if this still occurs years later.
Being willing to seek therapy for himself and diligently work at employing the new thinking and behaviors he is learning.
Confess and repent when he sins by relapsing. Listen to this great quote from Johnson on this: “What separates the abuser from someone who engages in occasional insensitive behavior is that the nonabuser is willing to admit his behavior, take full responsibility for his behavior, and choose not to repeat the same behavior. The abuser, however, blames the victim, makes excuses, and rationalizes his behavior, and he chooses to repeat the behavior.” (p. 66)
And then it gets even better! Johnson lists 28 indicators of a lack of empathy! Here are some of them:
Expects instant forgiveness.
Pushes the healing process — she needs to just get over it.
Resist continuing accountability. This shows when they are confronted later when they slip back into abusive behavior.
“Either…or” – Johnson calls this ultimatum issuing. You do this or else I will…
Dragging his feet on pursuing therapy and treatment
Justifying, rationalizing, intellectualizing, or blaming.
Could care less attitude about the victim’s feelings
Refusing to accept full responsibility
Working to erode the victim’s support network. Working to gain allies, in other words.
Overdoing “niceties.” Look out for this one! Compliments, nice actions, gifts…. that really are inappropriate given the circumstances.
Telling the victim how she needs to change and what she needs to do.
Pursuing therapy, but insisting that the therapist be a person who is unqualified to deal with abuse cases. We meet this one all the time! The phoney “Christian” abuser who insists that he must only see a “Christian” counselor!
Complaining about how much the therapy for himself or the victim costs.
Pressuring the victim to participate in “fun” activities with him and forget all that is “water under the bridge.”
Enforcing a system of double standards
As Johnson concludes, he advises that any single one of these indicators is very serious, but if a victim checks off several that apply to her abuser, she can be sure that he lacks empathy.
And, the chapter ends with this sobering statement: “A lack of empathy usually indicates that the abuser is unlikely to change. In most cases when the abuser lacks empathy, his relationship ends.” (p 71).
Whoa! Sobering! But it is the truth. And the truth has a way of setting us free.
If you’ve EVER given your husband a list of things to do to “change” then this article is for YOU!!!!
No list holds the power to change a person’s heart.
It finally arrives – the heartbreaking yet liberating moment when you simply cannot live the lie for one more minute. The loneliness, shame and exhaustion can no longer be rationalized or minimized. There is nothing left to sort out or piece together or hope for, and you finally break through the wall of dysfunction you had foolishly accepted as normal. And you leave.
As the first days pass, you find yourself moving tenuously through the haze of disillusionment and exhaustion and catching a glimpse of clear sky, relishing every breath of free air and then falling into bed at night in peace. If you are lucky, in the abuser’s absence, the numbness of soul to which you have become accustomed gives way, and you find yourself savoring the joys of a few days, hours or minutes free of constant fear and confusion.
Unfortunately, it will not be long before your sweet respite is interrupted. Your abuser is not done yet. He shows up on your doorstep and leaves countless messages on your phone. He might arrive at your workplace, send flowers, bring gifts and make every promise imaginable. He insists he has been awakened to the truth and is intent on securing any opportunity to prove himself. So he asks, “What can I do to assure you of my love, to earn your trust and prove my sincerity? Name it.”
Those are dangerous words. He wants your checklist.
It is tempting to offer one. How many nights have you lain awake strategizing how you might reach his angry, calloused heart and get him to see you, to cherish you?
“Maybe this is it,” you say to yourself. “Maybe he has finally reached a point where he can hear me.”
It feels like an open door, a precious opportunity to set the stage for real healing and change. You feel confident, even eager presenting him with your checklist because he has evoked a genuine desire to make things right. You put it out there, believing that you are giving him some helpful direction, maybe even inspiration. You might insist on counseling, treatment for his addiction(s), corrections to his irresponsible spending, acknowledgement of and elimination of his abusive behavior. You might also ask that he help more with household responsibilities or give you more freedom to pursue your interests.
Only these many years later can I see the absurdity of enduring however many years of abuse, and then handing the abuser a short list of concessions he must make to get things back to what he considers normal. Step back for a moment, and you can see that his request of you at once infers that he is mystified as to what the issues are and how he has hurt you. If he is counting on you to explain to him what he needs to change, then in his mind, he doesn’t need to change anything. And your willingness to offer him a checklist is accepted as a promise that you are willing to reconcile with him as soon as those line items are checked off.
As well-trained enablers, we almost always fail to realize that the checklist is a trap, a teaser in the abuser’s game, and many of us are drawn in. We continue to act on the premise that relationship is the mutual goal. Not so for the abuser. Remember: he wants control.
So what we see as a solemn opportunity to restore genuine relationship is to the abuser a trivial matter of a few small hurdles, temporary obligations, or just another opportunity to perfect his art of manipulation. The checklist becomes the very mortar the abuser will use to rebuild the walls that held you captive.
Go to counseling? Sure. Several weeks later, the counselor has bought in to the abuser’s “sincere” efforts, and the victim has lost her voice. In fact, she is probably under the gun now for being slow to forgive or accommodate him. Nothing has changed, but he has fulfilled the mandate.
Get treatment for his addictions. He goes to meetings and expresses confidence in his progress, but there will be occasional lapses. What do you expect – perfection? To be encouraging, you commend him for his progress believing his addictive tendencies will decline over time, but only time will tell.
At first, his commitment seems admirable, even believable. And you may optimistically give him more credit than he is due. Not only that, but many of your checklist demands are subjective and can be molded and twisted in a manner that can be accepted as a good effort. Speaking cruelly to you or your children? That’s a matter of opinion, isn’t it? Perhaps you’re overreacting again or expecting too much in too short of a time period. In no time, he will have found a way to document some measure of success in every area you asked.
Check. Check. Check.
If you’re a strong one, maybe you can resist the tearful pleas of your children who want daddy to come home, and remain a little skeptical when his friends and family members remind you of how hard he is trying. You do not have the measure of peace you need to consider reconciling. That is when the checklist becomes his tool and your enemy.
“I’ve done everything you’ve asked,” he reminds you. “What more can you possibly expect from me? You are being unfair to me. Don’t you want to save our marriage? Why are you doing this to our children?” And the pressure is on.
Has he really changed? No. But you have set yourself up for Checklist Blackmail. The abuser will use the checklist you gave him to contain and define and limit the scope of necessity in the relationship. Your checklist leaves the intangible, immeasurable substance of his character immutable.
Even though the abuser has met the obligations, you still feel unsafe. To his way of thinking, that’s your problem. Should you refuse to receive him, he will emotionally pummel you with the checklist you gave him and angrily affirm your response as proof that you are absolutely unreasonable, overly demanding and even cruel. You have put yourself between a rock and a hard place – and your abuser knows it.
Just say ‘no’ to the checklist. No list holds the power to change a person’s heart. If you leave your abuser, and he tells you he wants to change, to make things right; let him. He’s a grown-up. Let him go get counseling on his own and figure out what needs to do to get healthy without harassing you or promising you the moon or extracting agreements or timelines from you.
While he does his share of the work (I write with great skepticism), you can take some time to educate yourself about the abuse dynamic and focus on your healing – not on his. If one day he shows up on your doorstep, accepts full responsibility for all of his cruelties, humbly seeks your forgiveness, seeks help of his own volition and agrees to leave you alone and honor your need for time and space and room to heal without limits…then there might be a basis for entertaining the remote possibility of reconciliation.
From what I have witnessed in my dealings with abusers, they prefer the game of Checklist Blackmail. Don’t play. It is just one more game you simply cannot win.
Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him. Proverbs 27:22
Here is the blog…there are MANY other fantastic articles on here!! http://www.hurtbylove.com/checklist-blackmail/
THE WATER TORTURER [Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?]
The Water Torturer’s style proves that anger doesn’t cause abuse. He can assault his partner psychologically without even raising his voice. He tends to stay calm in arguments, using his own evenness as a weapon to push her over the edge. He often has a superior or contemptuous grin on his face, smug and self-assured. He uses a repertoire of aggressive conversational tactics at low volume, including sarcasm, derision—such as openly laughing at her—mimicking her voice, and cruel, cutting remarks. Like Mr. Right, he tends to take things she has said and twist them beyond recognition to make her appear absurd, perhaps especially in front of other people. He gets to his partner through a slow but steady stream of low-level emotional assaults, and perhaps occasional shoves or other minor acts of violence that don’t generally cause visible injury but may do great psychological harm. He is relentless in his quiet derision and meanness.
The impact on a woman of all these subtle tactics is that either her blood temperature rises to a boil or she feels stupid and inferior, or some combination of the two. In an argument, she may end up yelling in frustration, leaving the room crying, or sinking into silence. The Water Torturer then says, “See, you’re the abusive one, not me. You’re the one who’s yelling and refusing to talk things out rationally. I wasn’t even raising my voice. It’s impossible to reason with you.”
The psychological effects of living with the Water Torturer can be severe. His tactics can be difficult to identify, so they sink in deeply. Women can find it difficult not to blame themselves for their reactions to what their partner does if they don’t even know what to call it. When someone slaps you in the face, you know you’ve been slapped. But when a woman feels psychologically assaulted, with little idea why, after an argument with The Water Torturer, she may turn her frustration inward. How do you seek support from a friend, for example, when you don’t know how to describe what is going wrong?
The Water Torturer tends to genuinely believe that there is nothing unusual about his behavior. When his partner starts to confront him with his abusiveness—which she usually does sooner or later—he looks at her as if she were crazy and says, What the hell are you talking about? I’ve never done anything to you. Friends and relatives who have witnessed the couple’s interactions may back him up. They shake their heads and say to each other, I don’t know what goes on with her. She just explodes at him sometimes, and he’s so low-key. Their children can develop the impression that Mom blows up over nothing. She herself may start to wonder if there is something psychologically wrong with her.
The Water Torturer is payback-oriented like most abusive men, but he may hide it better. If he is physically abusive, his violence may take the form of cold-hearted slaps for your own good or to get you to wake up rather than explosive rage. His moves appear carefully thought out, and he rarely makes obvious mistakes—such as letting his abusiveness show in public—that could turn other people against him or get him in legal trouble.
If you are involved with a Water Torturer, you may struggle for years trying to figure out what is happening. You may feel that you overreact to his behavior and that he isn’t really so bad. But the effects of his control and contempt have crept up on you over the years. If you finally leave him, you may experience intense periods of delayed rage, as you become conscious of how quietly but deathly oppressive he was.
This style of man rarely lasts long in an abuser program unless he has a court order. He is so accustomed to having complete success with his tactics that he can’t tolerate an environment where the counselors recognize and name his maneuvers and don’t let him get away with them. He tends to rapidly decide that his group leaders are as crazy as his partner and heads for the door.
The central attitudes driving the Water Torturer are:
• You are crazy. You fly off the handle over nothing.
• I can easily convince other people that you’re the one who is messed up.
• As long as I’m calm, you can’t call anything I do abusive, no matter how cruel.
• I know exactly how to get under your skin.
Except for the hitting or shoving…THIS describes PA Man perfectly! I HAVE to get this book!
Yesterday, PA Man actually asked me if I found a counselor for him! I was shocked! He actually brought it up…HIMSELF!! ~GASP~
When I mentioned counseling to him a few weeks ago, here…https://marriedtoapaman.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/pa-man-and-counseling/ he had asked me if I’d find a counselor for him, since he works so much and also goes out of town a lot…so I said I would.
I kinda changed my mind afterwards though, because I figured “Hey, he can find his own stupid counselor! He can prove just how sincere he is!!”
But then reality set back in…PA Man knows nothing about what kind of counselor he’d need, or how to screen them, or…anything!!
Lets face it, not only is he PA…but he’s also a MAN!!
So I’ve found a guy that I liked…he seemed to be very matter of fact, he’s a Christian, which I really didn’t want…to me they seem to think that we should all forgive each other and things will be better.
But when I talked to Tom on the phone, he didn’t pull any punches! He said that he gets to the root of the problem, which is a sinful, pride filled heart…that he doesn’t like “labels” like Passive Aggressive…he’d rather call it what it is..Sin!!
I also mentioned that in past counseling, only 3 sessions before PA Man quit, LOL, but in the past, whenever our therapist corrected me on something, PA Man would use that to attack me the next week….and Tom said if he does that, he will stop right there and address it, so that was encouraging!
Now…I do have a problem with this…Tom wants me to attend counseling WITH PA Man…and I really don’t want to!
I mean, come on, lets face it…Is this REALLY going to do much good?
Probably not….but I do hope that it will make things a little bit smoother for a while, so I can go along with the plans that I’m making without so much tenseness in the house!
And I’m NOT saying that PA Man can’t make a miraculous change….and I do agree with Tom, that this is a sinful, unrepentant heart that I’m dealing with…but I’m a bit jaded and skeptical at this point in my life….I mean, COME ON….seeing me curled up in a fetal position, sobbing my heart out didn’t ever move him…so I really don’t think that counseling will bring about that big of a change….but, I could be wrong!
I just want to know that I tried EVERYTHING and that my family knows I tried, and that I gave PA Man chance after chance…to no avail.