Sanctuary for the Abused

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Attachment to the Perpetrator

The Problem of Attachment to the Perpetrator

Colin A. Ross, M.D.

Over the last few years I have come to believe that a core problem in the psychotherapy of dissociative identity disorder is the problem of attachment to the perpetrator. This is also true for survivors of severe chronic childhood trauma who do not have D.I.D. The treatment that follows from this new model is different from the treatment of the ‘90s which focused more on memory recovery and abreaction. My sense of things is that the dissociative disorders field as a whole is shifting in this direction, away from “memory work” as such.

Memories are still a major element of therapy, and the trauma of the past is still talked about a lot. It’s a matter of a shift in emphasis rather than a change to a whole new way of providing therapy.

In the old model, which goes back to Pierre Janet in the nineteenth century, the idea was that the blocked memories were driving the symptoms – uncover the memory, process it and the symptoms go away. The key thing was to recover the information about what happened and all the feelings that go along with it. The old model was not wrong, it just wasn’t complete. For one thing, recovery involves learning a lot of new skills, not just abreacting trauma.

In this new model, the core problem is attachment, not dealing with memories and feelings as such. All baby birds and mammals must attach to a caregiver in order to survive. The attachment systems that control the behavior of mother and child (also father and child) are built-in genetically. The baby bird does not decide to chirp for food, and the mother bird does not decide to go out collecting food. All this just happens. The same is true for human children. A baby does not conduct rational adult analysis of human interaction patterns and then decide that crying has positive survival advantage. The baby just cries.

Similarly, the nursing mother who has a letdown reflex when her baby cries does not consciously decide to release more oxytocin from her brain in order to make her milk flow. Her body just does that for her. There are countless attachment behaviors that are built-in biologically. The parents also make conscious decisions about how to take care of the child for which they are responsible as adults. But the little child just attaches naturally in order to survive.

The basic goal is survival. Attachment serves that goal. This is true biologically, emotionally, humanly, spiritually, however one wants to look as it. To thrive and grow the child must attach to its caretakers. Separation and individuation from these caretakers is a task that is down the road developmentally, from the perspective of the newborn baby.

In a reasonable, healthy family this works out reasonably OK. The parents are imperfect and everybody has the usual neurotic conflicts about not having gotten all the love and nurturance that would have been ideal and perfect. We all have ambivalent attachment to our parents to some degree; we all are faced with the task of separation and individuation and none of us are complete successes.

In a family with active physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, however, things are different. The young child in this family – say it is a girl – must attach to her father for her survival. She cannot run away from home, get married, or go away to college because she hasn’t even gone to kindergarten yet. She depends on her parents for food, clothes, a roof, and her basic survival needs. She also needs her parents for her emotional and spiritual development. The problem is that the father she must attach to, in order to survive, is also the perpetrator who is abusing her.

Just as love, approach and attachment to parents are built-in biologically, so is the recall reflex. If you touch a hot stove by mistake, your brain pulls your hand away even before you consciously experience the pain. Your biology does this for you, without any conscious analysis or decision-making. Similarly, your body goes into recoil mode from child abuse automatically. You just automatically withdraw, pull back, and shut down.

One way to cope with the abuse would be to go catatonic. This would be developmental suicide. Except possibly in rare cases (which therapists never see in their offices) the body will not allow permanent catatonia – the attachment systems must be kept up and running for the organism to survive whether it is a child, a kitten, a bird, or a rabbit. There must be an override of the withdrawal reflex.

How can this be accomplished? By dissociation. The fundamental driver of the dissociation, in this way of looking at things, is the problem of attachment to the perpetrator. In order to survive, the child must attach to the person who is hurting her. There is no escape and no other option. In order to maintain the attachment systems up and running, they cannot be contaminated by the traumatic information coming in through the sense; that reality must be dissociated.

What difference does this model make in therapy? First, the focus of therapy is not on the content of the memories – the target is the ambivalent attachment. This ambivalent attachment is visible in current relationships and in the structure of the internal world.

This is true whether the diagnosis is DID, PTSD, DDNOS or borderline personality disorder. Borderline personality is an inevitable consequence of the problem of attachment to the perpetrator and is a biologically normal human response to severe chronic childhood trauma.

A focus on the problem of attachment to the perpetrator sidesteps most of the controversy about false memories since the content of the memories is not the main concern. If the memories are accurate, they explain how the problem of attachment to the perpetrator arose; if they are inaccurate, they symbolize that problem. Either way, the ambivalent attachment is the focus, not the content of the memories.

In the new model, there is much, much less abreaction in therapy, if any. By this I mean, the kind of full-tilt abreaction where the person is back in the past, reliving the trauma as if it is happening all over again. Within the new model, abreaction is unnecessary and retraumatizing. What does occur is what I call intense recollection. The description of the trauma is still intense, vivid, and difficult, but it is grounded. Even in relatively pure cognitive therapy, as I do it, there is lots of intense feeling.

The first goal of therapy is to hold both sides of the ambivalent attachment in consciousness at the same time – to feel both the love and the hate. The love is always there, somewhere. I believe it is biologically impossible to extinguish your love for your parents, no matter how abusive they were.

Therapists can make a mistake by identifying with and supporting one side of the ambivalent attachment only. A not uncommon error is to validate and identify with only the anger, and push the love, attachment and approach underground. A pseudo-resolution of ambivalent attachment can occur when there is an artificial complete separation from the parents – this can be just a cover for unresolved ambivalence.

This error by therapists is a fertile ground for false memories.

In some situations, the parents are in fact so manipulative and abusive in the present day that complete separation is the only healthy option. That’s not what I’m talking about. I am thinking of people whose parents are semi-OK in the present and who are missing out on a limited positive relationship in the present because they have shut down the positive side of their attachment.

Once both sides of the ambivalent attachment are held in conscious awareness at the same time, and processed a bit, the next step is grief work. One must mourn the loss of the parent one never had. The task is to dissolve the unrealistically all-good or all-bad parent, deal with the actual disappointment and loss, and complete the task of separation and individuation. This is a job we are all working on. Those who were not severely physically, sexually, or emotionally abused as children have a much easier time because they did not have to dissociate in an extreme way to survive extreme conditions.

One reason I like this model is because it makes the extreme nature of the trauma clear, but emphasizes the fact that the core of therapy is a common human problem.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

January is Stalking Awareness Month

What You Need to Know About Stalking

Being the target of a stalker can be a dangerous and scary experience. But there are ways to deal with this crime that can make you safe and help you feel empowered.

In a stalking situation, the stalker gets his kicks out of invading your privacy or causing you fear. While stalkers can certainly be dangerous, violence is not necessarily their top priority. If it was, they wouldn't spend time stalking - they would just attack. The problem is that there is no way to tell ahead of time what the stalker's plans are, and if the stalker himself assures you that he means no harm, you should certainly not believe him.

Some forms of stalking involve constant calls and visits. We work with some women who say "Well, he asked me out about twenty times, so I finally said yes because I felt sorry for him." Providing encouragement of any kind to the stalker is a mistake.

In this example, the woman has in effect told the stalker that he will get one date with her for every twenty times he askes her. This also shows the stalker that getting her to feel sorry for him is an effective strategy.

In the dynamics of stalking, the equation is simple. There is one stalker, and one victim. The stalker gets his jollies by causing fear - whether by following her, calling her repeatedly, using foul language, invading her privacy, etc. The male stalker and female victim will also fall into the standard pattern of predator and victim, with both of them assuming the predator is stronger. As a result, the act of causing fear is the payoff for the stalker, giving him a sexual rush, making him feel powerful and omnipotent.

To effectively deal with a stalker, you need to change this equation. Here are some suggestions, based on my knowledge of the laws in Minnesota. The laws in your state may be different. Check them!

How to Stop Stalkers
Take Action
Start telling others about the stalker. Even if you have responded to him positively in the past, don't let that stop you from taking action now. Tell people what is going on. If you did go out with him, it was a mistake, but you can fix that. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes. Learn from it and move on.

Keep a Diary
Record every incident, no matter how trivial. Stalkers use the triviality of their actions as a defense: "What, I'm not allowed on a public street?'. You need to establish a pattern of behavior. Record dates, times, places, witnesses, phone numbers, addresses, everything you can think of. If this problem has been ongoing, record previous events to the best of your ability. Record every incident as it happens. Call the police every time you are contacted. They may say they can't send a police car or an officer for an obscene phone call. If that happens, say 'Yes, I know; I just need you to make an official note of this incident so I can prove a pattern of behavior.' And follow up - but keep your own notes!

Get More People Involved
Contact your local women's center and tell them you're being stalked. Bring in your record of the incidents. Advocates who work at women's centers have experience with stalkers, and may even know the person who is bothering you. They also know the police, the sheriff, and the county prosecutors. They will have resources, contact, and advice that will help immensely. They will know the laws in your state, county, and city. Once you involve professionals in this problem, the situation changes from you against the stalker to the system against the stalker. My information is based on what I know about the laws in Minnesota. Please contact a shelter or crisis center in your town for the best help and information.

Work with Advocates
Work closely with the advocates from the women's crisis center. Follow her advice. If my advice differs from hers, do what she says. She knows more about the specific laws in your state than I do. Feel free to ask questions and tell her everything that is going on. The advocate's job is to empower you, to work with you, to make you stronger and more confident about every aspect of your life.

Call Non-Emergency Numbers
Call your local police non-emergency number. If you're in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Ask to speak to the Officer in Charge. you will be connected with a relatively high ranking police officer. Explain that you are being stalked, and ask for advice. The officer will make a record of the phone call and tell you what to do.

File a Restraining Order
If the stalker is a stranger, you can file a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO), which is used when you don't have a significant or legal relationship with the other person. Make sure that your advocate help syou fill out the forms, using your documented patterns of incidents. A judge will look over your application, see how many times you have been bothered, and will grant or not grant your HRO request. When it has been granted, every incident is stalking is considered a violation of the order and is a crime.

Facts about HROs
Make sure your advocate tells you what an HRO can and cannot do. Statistically, when an HRO is served, that can be the most dangerous time for you. Work with your advocate to make sure you stay safe. Evaluate the level of danger and make a safety plan accordingly.

Many times, an HRO will cause a power shift in the relationship, and the stalker will leave you alone. It's not fun for him anymore because you are no longer a safe and easy target.

Remember that a restraining order will not stop a stalker who doesn't care about it. The advantage to an HRO is that it will mobilize law enforcement to be on your side. The police must pay attention and respond to any violation of the order.

Penalties for violating an HRO will vary, depending on your state or country. Repeated violations may result in harsher penalties. Remember, the more violations he has on his record, the better your case.

The HRO is between your stalker and the judge. If the stalker violates the HRO, he is violating the judge's order, not yours. The only way the order can be modified is if you go to court to change it.

The HRO is against your stalker, not against you. Sometimes the stalker will threaten, "I'll show up where you are, then I'll report YOU for violating the HRO!". Sorry, no, the HRO is one way only. It's impossible for you to violate the HRO. Sometimes a judge will order mutual HROs, against both parties, but this is rare. Incidentally, if the stalker makes a threat like that, he has already violated the HRO. Report it.

No witnesses? His word against yours? After the HRO is granted, that doesn't matter. The police have to believe you.

Continue to report every single incident, no matter how small. If you don't report every incident, he may begin pushing the boundaries, seeing how far you will let him go before he gets into trouble. Develop a hair-trigger response and report the slightest violation.

Be With Other People
Stay with others as much as you possible can. If an incident occurs, you will have plenty of witnesses. Statistically, you are much safer in a group anyway.

Don't Show Fear
Refusing to show fear may be one of your best weapons. The stalker enjoys provoking fear. Talk to your advocate about your specific case to see if this would be a good approach to take.

Follow these steps and you can stop stalkers. If we all work together we can make the world a safer place.

(while this article was written in the male, stalkers can also be female)


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Monday, January 15, 2018

People of the Lie

Review from

"This book really scared the daylights out of me, amazed me, and also gave me terrific insight into hidden evil. From blatant wartime evil, to deeply hidden malevolency in people around you. Conscious evil, (evil parents really disturbed me...wait till you get to the story of the rifle... absolutely horrific and 100% FACT). Dr. Peck really has studied how evil hides, lies, and distorts facts to manipulate those around it.

A great read. You'll be amazed at how evil manifests itself and stunned at the same time."

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

You Are NOT To Blame...


You are not to blame for being abused

You are not the cause of another's abusive behavior

You do not like it or want it

You are an important human being

You are a worthwhile person

You deserve to be treated with respect

You do have power over your own life

You can use your power to take good care of yourself

You can decide for yourself what is best for you

You can make changes in your life if you want to

You are not alone

You can ask others for help

You can ask to be believed

You can ask others for understanding

You deserve to make your own life safe and happy.

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shared by Barbara at 12:03 AM


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Betrayal Trauma

What is Betrayal Trauma?

What is Betrayal Trauma Theory?

Short Definitions
The phrase "betrayal trauma" can be used to refer to a kind of trauma (independent of the reaction to the trauma). E.g. This definition is on the web: "Most mental health professionals have expanded the definition of trauma to include betrayal trauma.
Betrayal trauma occurs when the people or institutions we depend on for survival or those we trust violate us in some way. An example of betrayal trauma is childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse." LINK

The phrase "Betrayal Trauma theory" is generally used to refer to the prediction/theory about the cause of unawareness and amnesia as in: "Betrayal Trauma Theory: A theory that predicts that the degree to which a negative event represents a betrayal by a trusted needed other will influence the way in which that events is processed and remembered."

History of Terminology

 Jennifer Freyd introduced the terms "betrayal trauma" and "betrayal trauma theory" in 1991 at a presentation at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute:

Freyd, J.J. Memory repression, dissociative states, and other cognitive control processes involved in adult sequelae of childhood trauma. Invited paper given at the Second Annual Conference on A Psychodynamics - Cognitive Science Interface, Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, University of California, San Francisco, August 21-22, 1991.

From that talk:
"I propose that the core issue is betrayal -- a betrayal of trust that produces conflict between external reality and a necessary system of social dependence. Of course, a particular event may be simultaneously a betrayal trauma and life threatening. Rape is such an event. Perhaps most childhood traumas are such events."

Betrayal trauma theory was introduced: "The psychic pain involved in detecting betrayal, as in detecting a cheater, is an evolved, adaptive, motivator for changing social alliances. In general it is not to our survival or reproductive advantage to go back for further interaction to those who have betrayed us.

However, if the person who has betrayed us is someone we need to continue interacting with despite the betrayal, then it is not to our advantage to respond to the betrayal in the normal way. Instead we essentially need to ignore the betrayal....

If the betrayed person is a child and the betrayer is a parent, it is especially essential the child does not stop behaving in such a way that will inspire attachment. For the child to withdraw from a caregiver he is dependent on would further threaten his life, both physically and mentally. Thus the trauma of child abuse by the very nature of it requires that information about the abuse be blocked from mental mechanisms that control attachment and attachment behavior. One does not need to posit any particular avoidance of psychic pain per se here -- instead what is of functional significance is the control of social behavior.

These ideas were further developed in talks presented in the early 1990s and then in an article published in 1994. A more definitive statement was presented in Freyd's 1996 book. [See refs at end of this web page.]

Betrayal Trauma Theory and Research 

Betrayal trauma theory posits that there is a social utility in remaining unaware of abuse when the perpetrator is a caregiver (Freyd, 1994, 1996). The theory draws on studies of social contracts (e.g., Cosmides, 1989) to explain why and how humans are excellent at detecting betrayals; however, Freyd argues that under some circumstances detecting betrayals may be counter-productive to survival. Specifically, in cases where a victim is dependent on a caregiver, survival may require that she/he remain unaware of the betrayal. In the case of childhood sexual abuse, a child who is aware that her/his parent is being abusive may withdraw from the relationship (e.g., emotionally or in terms of proximity). For a child who depends on a caregiver for basic survival, withdrawing may actually be at odds with ultimate survival goals, particularly when the caregiver responds to withdrawal by further reducing caregiving or increasing violence. In such cases, the child's survival would be better ensured by being blind to the betrayal and isolating the knowledge of the event, thus remaining engaged with the caregiver.

The traditional assumption in trauma research has been that fear is at the core of responses to trauma. Freyd (2001) notes that traumatic events differ orthogonally in degree of fear and betrayal, depending on the context and characteristics of the event. (see Figure 1). Research suggests that the distinction between fear and betrayal may be important to posttraumatic outcomes. For example, DePrince (2001) found that self-reported betrayal predicted PTSD and dissociative symptoms above and beyond self-reported fear in a community sample of individuals who reported a history of childhood sexual abuse.

Research on Betrayal, Dissociation, and Cognitive Mechanisms 

Betrayal trauma theory predicts that dissociating information from awareness is mediated by the threat that the information poses to the individual's system of attachment (Freyd, 1994, 1996). Consistent with this, Chu and Dill (1990) reported that childhood abuse by family members (both physical and sexual) was significantly related to increased DES scores in psychiatric inpatients, and abuse by nonfamily members was not. Similarly, Plattner et al (2003) report that they found significant correlations between symptoms of pathological dissociation and intrafamilial (but not extrafamilial) trauma in a sample of delinquent juveniles. DePrince (2005) found that the presence of betrayal trauma before the age of 18 was associated with pathological dissociation and with revictimization after age 18. She also found that individuals who report being revictimized in young adulthood following an interpersonal assault in childhood perform worse on reasoning problems that involve interpersonal relationships and safety information compared to individuals who have not been revictimized.

Basic cognitive processes involved in attention and memory most likely play an important role in dissociating explicit awareness of betrayal traumas. Across several studies, we have found empirical support for the relationship between dissociation and knowledge isolation in laboratory tasks. Using the classic Stroop task, Freyd and colleagues (Freyd, Martorello, Alvarado, Hayes, & Christman, 1998) found that participants who scored high on the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) showed greater Stroop interference than individuals with low DES scores, suggesting that they had more difficulty with the selective attention task than low dissociators. The results from Freyd et al. (1998) suggested a basic relationship between selective attention and dissociative tendencies. In a follow-up study, we tested high and low DES groups using a Stroop paradigm with both selective and divided attention conditions; participants saw stimuli that included color terms (e.g., "red" in red ink), baseline strings of x's, neutral words, and trauma-related words such as "incest" and "rape." A significant DES by attention task interaction revealed that high DES participants' reaction time was worse (slower) in the selective attention task than the divided attention task when compared to low dissociators' performance (replication and extension of Freyd et al., 1998). A significant interaction of dissociation by word category revealed that high DES participants recalled more neutral and fewer trauma-related words than did low DES participants. Consistent with betrayal trauma theory, the free recall finding supported the argument that dissociation may help to keep threatening information from awareness.

In two follow-up studies using a directed forgetting paradigm (a laboratory task in which participants are presented with items and told after each item or a list of items whether to remember or forget the material), we found that high DES participants recalled fewer charged and more neutral words than did low DES participants for items they were instructed to remember when divided attention was required (item method: DePrince & Freyd, 2001, list method: DePrince & Freyd, 2004). The high dissociators report significantly more trauma history (Freyd & DePrince, 2001) and significantly more betrayal trauma (DePrince & Freyd, 2004). Similar findings have been found with children using pictures instead of words as stimuli. Children who had trauma histories and who were highly dissociative recognized fewer charged pictures relative to non-traumatized children under divided attention conditions; no group differences were found under selective attention conditions (Becker-Blease, Freyd, & Pears, 2004).

Research on Betrayal, Forgetting, and Recovered Memories 

Betrayal trauma theory predicts that unawareness and forgetting of abuse will be higher when the relationship between perpetrator and victim involves closeness, trust, and/or caregiving. It is in these cases that the potential for a conflict between need to stay in the relationship and awareness of betrayal is greatest, and thus where we should see the greatest amount of forgetting or memory impairment. Freyd (1996) reported finding from re-analyses of a number of relevant data sets that incestuous abuse was more likely to be forgotten than non-incestuous abuse. These data sets included the prospective sample assessed by Williams (1994, 1995), and retrospective samples assessed by Cameron (1993) and Feldman-Summers and Pope (1994). Using new data collected from a sample of undergraduate students, Freyd, DePrince and Zurbriggen (2001) found that physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by a caregiver was related to higher levels of self-reported memory impairment for the events compared to non-caregiver abuse. Research by Schultz, Passmore, and Yoder (2003) and a doctoral dissertation by Stoler (2001) has revealed similar results. For instance the abstract to Schultz et al (2003) indicate: "Participants reporting memory disturbances also reported significantly higher numbers of perpetrators, chemical abuse in their families, and closer relationships with the perpetrator(s) than participants reporting no memory disturbances." Sheiman (1999) reported that, in a sample of 174 students, those participants who reported memory loss for child sexual abuse were more likely to experience abuse by people who were well-known to them, compared to those who did not have memory loss. Similarly Stoler (2001) notes in her dissertation abstract: "Quantitative comparisons revealed that women with delayed memories were younger at the time of their abuse and more closely related to their abusers." Interestingly, Edwards et al (2001) reported that general autobiographical memory loss measured in a large epidemiologic study was strongly associated with a history of childhood abuse, and that one of the specific factors associated with this increased memory loss was sexual abuse by a relative.

Some researchers have presumably failed to find a statistically significant relationship between betrayal trauma and memory impairment. It is hard to know how many times a possible relationship was examined and yet not found at the statistically significant level because of the bias to publish only significant results. When a relationship is not found, the question then is whether it does not exist or simply cannot be detected due to measurement or power limitations. For instance, Goodman et al (2003) reported that that "relationship betrayal" was not a statistically significant predictor for forgetting in their unusual sample of adults who had been involved in child abuse prosecution cases during childhood. It is not clear whether the relationship truly does not exist in this sample (which is possible given how unusual a sample it is) or whether there was simply insufficient statistical power to detect the relationship (see commentaries by Freyd, 2003 and Zurbriggen & Becker-Blease, 2003). Future research will be needed to clarify these issues. At this point we know that betrayal effects on memorability of abuse have been found in at least seven data sets (see paragraph above).

Research on Betrayal, Distress, and Health

 In the section above research relating betrayal to forgetting was reviewed. What about the relationship between betrayal and distress? DePrince (2001) discovered that trauma survivors reporting traumatic events high in betrayal were particularly distressed. Freyd, Klest, & Allard (in press) found that a history of betrayal trauma was strongly associated with physical and mental health symptoms in a sample of ill individuals. Goldsmith, DePrince, & Freyd (2004) reported similar results in a sample of college students.

Atlas and Ingram (1998) "Investigated the association of histories of physical and sexual abuse with symptoms of posttraumatic stress. 34 hospitalized adolescents (aged 14-17.10 yrs) with histories of abuse were given the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children. Sexual distress was associated with histories of abuse by familymembers as compared to nonabuse or abuse by other, while posttraumatic stress was not." Turell and Armsworth (2003) compared sexual abuse survivors who self-mutilate from those who do not. They report that self-mutilators were more likely to have been abused in their family of origin.

In addition, as mentioned above, Chu and Dill (1990) reported that childhood abuse by family members (both physical and sexual) was significantly related to increased DES scores in psychiatric inpatients, and abuse by nonfamily members was not. Plattner et al (2003) report that they found significant correlations between symptoms of pathological dissociation and intrafamilial (but not extrafamilial) trauma in a sample of delinquent juveniles.

In contrast to these other findings, Lucenko, Gold, & Cott (2000) report: "subjects whose perpetrators were not caretakers experienced higher levels of posttraumatic symptomatology (PTS) in adulthood than those abused by caretakers." Future research is necessary to determine why this one study resulted in such a different pattern than the others reviewed in this section.

Implications of the Research 

Taken together, these investigations support the underlying betrayal trauma model. Specifically, betrayal appears to be related to avoidance and dissociative responses that help the individual to keep threatening information from awareness under conditions where the individual's survival depends upon the perpetrator. Furthermore betrayal trauma appears to be associated with numerous other physical and mental health symptoms.

Some Questions
Is it necessary for the victim to be conscious of the betrayal in order to call it "betrayal trauma"?

The short answer is "no." The following text is from DePrince and Freyd (2002a), page 74-75:

"The role of betrayal in betrayal trauma theory was initially considered an implicit but central aspect of some situations. If a child is being mistreated by a caregiver he or she is dependent upon, this is by definition betrayal, whether the child recognizes the betrayal explicitly or not. Indeed, the memory impairment and gaps in awareness that betrayal trauma theory predicted were assumed to serve in part to ward off conscious awareness of mistreatment in order to promote the dependent child's survival goals......While conscious appraisals of betrayal may be inhibited at the time of trauma and for as long as
the trauma victim is dependent upon the perpetrator, eventually the trauma survivor may become conscious of strong feelings of betrayal."

An important issue for future research is investigating the role the emotional perception of betrayal has in distress and recovery.

Is gender a factor?

It appears that men experience more non-betrayal traumas than do women, while women experience more betrayal traumas than do men. These effects may be substantial (Goldberg & Freyd, 2004) and of significant impact on the lives of men and women (DePrince & Freyd, 2002b). To the extent that betrayal traumas are potent for some sorts of psychological impact and non-betrayals potent for other impacts (e.g. Freyd, 1999), these gender difference would imply some very non-subtle socialization factors operating as a function of gender.

What is betrayal blindness?

Betrayal blindness is the unawareness, not-knowing, and forgetting exhibited by people towards betrayal (Freyd, 1996, 1999). This blindness may extend to betrayals that are not traditionally considered "traumas," such as adultery, inequities in the workplace and society, etc. Both victims, perpetrators, and witnesses may display betrayal blindness in order to preserve relationships, institutions, and social systems upon which they depend. (Also, see Helen Garrod's discussion of "Political Betrayal Trauma" and Eileen Zurbriggen's essay on Betrayal Trauma in the 2004 Election.)

Are demands for silence a factor in not-knowing about betrayal?
In addition to implicit motivations for not-knowing that the betrayed person may have in order to maintain a relationship, the victim may have other reasons for not-knowing and silence. At least one such reason is demands for silence from the perpetrator and others (family, society). Demands for silence (see Veldhuis & Freyd, 1999 cited at What is DARVO?) may lead to a complete failure to even discuss an experience. Experiences that have never been shared with anyone else may a different internal structure than shared experiences (see What is Shareability?).

There are also very useful resources and links provided at the sites of Stop It Now, the Sidran Institute and The Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence.

(see the original article by clicking on the title above for the references.)

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Adults Shamed as Children

The following is quoted from Shame & Guilt: Masters of Disguise by Jane Middelton-Moz, Ph.D.

1. Adults shamed as children are afraid of vulnerability and fear exposure of self.

2. Adults shamed as children may suffer extreme shyness, embarrassment and feelings of being inferior to others. They don't believe they make mistakes. Instead they believe they are mistakes.

3. Adults shamed as children fear intimacy and tend to avoid real commitment in relationships. These adults frequently express the feeling that one foot is out of the door, prepared to run.

4. Adults shamed as children may appear either grandiose and self-centered or seem selfless.

5. Adults shamed as children feel that, “No matter what I do, it won't make a difference; I am and always will be worthless and unlovable.”

6. Adults shamed as children frequently feel defensive when even minor negative feedback is given. They suffer feelings of severe humiliation if forced to look at mistakes or imperfections.

7. Adults shamed as children frequently blame others before they can be blamed.

8. Adults shamed as children may suffer from debilitating guilt. These individuals apologize constantly. They assume responsibility for the behavior of those around them.

9. Adults shamed as children feel like outsiders. They feel a pervasive sense of loneliness throughout their lives, even when surrounded with those who love and care.

10. Adults shamed as children project their beliefs about themselves onto others. They engage in mind-reading that is not in their favor, consistently feeling judged by others.

11. Adults shamed as children often feel angry and judgmental towards the qualities in others that they feel ashamed of in themselves. This can lead to shaming others.

12. Adults shamed as children often feel ugly, flawed and imperfect. These feelings regarding self may lead to focus on clothing and makeup in an attempt to hide flaws in personal appearance and self.

13. Adults shamed as children often feel controlled from the outside as well as from within. Normal spontaneous expression is blocked.

14. Adults shamed as children feel they must do things perfectly or not at all. This internalized belief frequently leads to performance anxiety and procrastination.

15. Adults shamed as children experience depression.

16. Adults shamed as children lie to themselves and others.

17. Adults shamed as children block their feelings of shame through compulsive behaviors like workaholism, eating disorders, shopping, sexual addiction, substance abuse, list-making or gambling.

18. Adults shamed as children often have caseloads rather than friendships.

19. Adults shamed as children often involve themselves in compulsive processing of past interactions and events and intellectualization as a defense against pain.

20. Adults shamed as children are stuck in dependency or counter-dependency.

21. Adults shamed as children have little sense of emotional boundaries. They feel constantly violated by others. They frequently build false boundaries through walls, rage, pleasing or isolation.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Smear Campaigns - Part V in a Series

A summary of important points to remember about smear campaigns:


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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Smear Campaigns - Part IV in a Series

If you should become the subject of a smear campaign, you may find the following practices to be helpful in reducing or eliminating the damage.

1. Immediately discontinue speaking to the smear campaigner.

If you can’t possibly do this because it’s a work situation, limit the time spent talking to this person alone as much as humanly possible. Abusers lie and manipulate, and prefer to have all their conversations with their victims when the victim is without the benefit of witnesses. Abusive people don’t like witnesses, so avoid being alone with them at all cost. That’s when the abuse will be at its worst, and that’s when you’ll say the things they will cruelly twist into lies later. 

Deliberately approach them to have any unavoidable conversations in public, while standing in line at the water cooler, in a busy hall, while in a vehicle with others, or in a packed elevator. They may attempt to weasel out of the conversation by suggesting you have it later, in their office, at their house, or another isolated environment. 

Avoid this by cutting comments down into very small pieces. For instance, don’t ask what the plan is for the big sales project while flying by their door. That’s a conversation for later, when the two of you will be sitting down alongside Jane (surprise!) whom you thoughtfully arranged to have join you to help take notes. Right now, as you race by their office, you just need to know “one quick thing”. If you’re invited into a more lengthy discussion, let them know you’re rushing and you’ll get back to them. Then carefully plan that interaction, too, or they’ll take the upper hand.
2. Put things in writing.

One of the great benefits of the electronic age is, we can have an instant copy of every piece of correspondence we send. If you absolutely must speak to the smear campaigner and you have the option of saying whatever you need to say in writing, do it. Having a record of exactly what has been said by you is invaluable protection against distortions and misrepresentation. Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) what you send to the smear campaigner to a third party whenever possible. When writing the content of the correspondence, do not say anything you would not want everyone to read. If you do, it’s guaranteed that everyone will soon be reading it (or what’s left of it after the smear campaigner’s creative “editing” work).

3. Know the lay of the land, and act accordingly.

If the abuser is a coworker, you have two options: sit down with management or leave the position. If the abuser is a supervisor, you can approach senior management, however you may still have to leave the employer (or at least that particular role). 

If the abuser is a family member, your options are similar: approach others to see if you can get support, and stop seeing abusive/unsupportive members. Unfortunately, the great majority of families in which there is an abuser are not at all supportive of members who demand that the abuse stop, and members of these families often turn against the abused member. Dysfunctional families are irrational and incapable of meeting requests for healthy boundaries, and no contact with some or all of the family may be your only option. 

If your work environment is similarly dysfunctional and the abuse is not seen through, not looked into, or you’re not taken seriously, then the problem, like with abusive families, is a deeper and more systemic one, and leaving will be your best option, no matter how much you may have wanted to keep the job otherwise.


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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Smear Campaigns - Part III in a Series

Carefully tending to his or her image as an ''innocent and upstanding' whistleblower who is 'bravely speaking up against evil' is a necessary part of the smear campaigner’s plan. Whether smear campaigners claim to be your victim or just a conscientious bystander (or both), they know that being seen as “the good one” fools the most people possible.

The smear campaigner must work to make people believe them. They will put on a good face, agree with their listeners and feign integrity and kindness.

This is a righteous and brave warrior of truth – not someone who is having a tantrum because you got in their way when they were doing something wrong. This is not a cowardly tyrant who is seething with revenge — certainly not. This is just a decent person who is bravely trying to help others by spreading the word to be careful and avoid a monster of an abuser – you!

Smear campaigners may claim that they don’t want to say anything bad about anyone, and that it’s “not like them”, but they just have to say something about you in order help good people snuff out your supposed evil. They must break with their usual humble moral humility in order to step up and save the decent people of the world by finally exposing the truth about you that nobody has ever known!

Of course, it’s not the truth; it’s a smear campaign. But most everybody wants to support a person who has been hurt by someone abusive and will rush to their defense, so that’s the role the smear campaigner often plays — the good and innocent victim-hero. Smear campaigners play on the sympathies of others, using people’s empathy to gain social leverage against their victims.

Most smear campaigners are highly narcissistic, and narcissists cannot ever be expected to apologize, come clean or admit any wrongdoing, even if caught red-handed in their lies. They truly believe, in their own way, that a smear campaign is the right thing to do to you, because you have opposed them, and you should have known better than to do such an unthinkable thing, so it’s simply all your fault they’re smearing you anyhow. They’re teaching you a lesson — agree with whatever they want, or else. You “asked for it”, and they’re teaching you better.

Smear campaigners are like spoiled playground bullies who kick another child when the teacher’s back is turned, just because the child doesn’t give them whatever they want. They cannot be made to empathize, and they are well-practiced in their abusive games, because they have been playing them all their lives. Next we’ll be discussing a list of ways to counter smear campaigns.


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Monday, January 08, 2018

Smear Campaigns - Part II in a Series

Smear Campaigns Depend on Fools Who Believe Them


The difficulty with saying no to toxic people is that they are already hazardous. After all, if they weren’t toxic, you wouldn’t have had to say no to them in the first place. 
Most abusers simply want what they want and will not be denied without unleashing a torrent of phony martyrdom and vicious slander all about you and how you are an abuser. Their story will be warped, slanted and twisted until there’s not one atom of truth left in it.

Lies will be sprinkled in to try making their audience fear, prejudge and rebuke you for the 'supposed evil' you’ve perpetrated against this innocent lamb (or a vulnerable, well-respected person). You didn’t ask for your boundaries to be respected — you are a vicious animal who attacked them, and you’ve supposedly attacked others, so everyone needs to “be careful” of you if they want to be “safe”. Everyone should stand up on behalf of this good person by shutting you out and standing up against your “abuse”.

If the the abuser is a coworker, they will try to get you into trouble or fired; if they are related to you, they will attempt to have you kicked out of the family or to make you feel left out. You must be marginalized and cut off from the pack so you will be left feeling weak and alone. It is the payback the smear campaigner exacts for the fact that you got in their way. They want you sorry you were ever born, and they know how much it will hurt you to be shunned and turned against, and how powerless you will feel without the assistance of others.

The smear campaigner must see to it that anyone they are telling these lies to is “kept sweet”, and they will play the good one, the nice helpful one, the innocent one who is only trying to warn people of how secretly evil you supposedly are when nobody’s looking. They’re doing their coworkers, the family, or society a grand favor by bravely speaking out against your misdeeds and righting a wrong. They cleverly play the friendly everyday good person who is upstanding, supportive and likeable, just like the people they’re trying to reel in. They would never do anything wrong or unlikeable, not them.

The smear campaigner needs to make their audience think they are a perfectly innocent person who was shockingly blindsided by your supposed evil, unreasonability, overemotionality or mental instability. Smear campaigners’ goals are to create mistrust of you, fear of you, and condemnation of you. If they think their audience may not swallow the lie that they have done absolutely nothing to contribute to the matter, they may admit that they have done something very minor, but that your response to it is outrageously unreasonable (or completely incompetent).

Popular lies of the smear campaigner include statements and insinuations that you are mentally ill, incompetent, untrustworthy or unreasonable. The smear campaigner does this so that if your legitimate upset shows, the observer will attribute it to irrationality, ill intent or instability, and not to your normal upset at having been badly mistreated.

Most people who use smear campaigns have several things in common. Next we’ll look at the profile and behaviors of the typical smear campaigner.


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