Contract with Your Abuser - Part I

Uploaded 3/30/2011, approx. 5 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

How to get your abuser to see reason in the first place? How to obtain for him the healthy needs without involving law enforcement agencies, the authorities or the courts?

Any attempt to broach the subject of the abuser's mental health problems frequently ends in fights or worse. It is positively dangerous to mention the abuser's shortcomings or imperfections to his face.

Abuse is a multifaceted phenomenon. It is a poisonous cocktail of controlled, frequently, of conforming to social and cultural norms and of latent sadism.

The abuser seeks to subjugate his victims, but also to look good or to save face in front of family and peers.

Many abusers also simply enjoy inflicting pain on helpless victims. They are sadistic.

Hence the complexity of trying to prevent or to control the abuser's behavior. His family, friends, peers, coworkers, neighbors, usually levels of social control and behavior modification, condone his misbehavior.

The abuser seeks to conform to norms and standards prevalent in his milieu, even if only implicitly.

The abuser regards himself as actually normal, definitely not the lard of therapeutic intervention.

Thus the complaints of the victim are likely to be met with hostility and suspicion by the offender's parents, by his siblings.

Instead of reining in the abusive conduct, they are likely to pathologize the victim. They are likely to say she is an odd case or to label her she is a whore or a bitch.

Nor is the victim of abuse likely to fare better in the hands of the police, law enforcement agencies, courts, counselors, therapists, guardians of Britain.

These institutions are inclined to assume that the abused victim has some kind of hidden agenda. She wants to abscond with his husband's property or to deny him custody or visitation rights. She is the guilty party.

Abuse remains, therefore, the private preserve of the predator and his prey. It is up to them to write their own rules and to implement them in their relationship.

No outside intervention is forthcoming. And if it is forthcoming, it is ineffective.

Indeed, the delineation of boundaries and reaching an agreement on coexistence are the first important steps towards minimizing abuse in your relationships.

Every agreement you make with your abuser must include a provision of urging him to seek professional help for his mental health problems.

Well, what should such a contract look like?

Personal boundaries are not negotiable. Neither can they be determined from the outside.

Your abusive bully should have no say in setting boundaries or in upholding them. Only you decide when they have been breached what constitutes a transgression, what is excusable and what cannot be pardoned.

The abuser is constantly on the lookout for a weakening of your resolve. He is repeatedly testing your mental and resilience. He pounces on any and every vulnerability, uncertainty, hesitation or susceptibility.

Don't give him these chances. Be decisive and know yourself. What do you really feel? What are your wishes and desires in the short and long term? What price are you willing to pay and what sacrifices are you ready to make in order to be you? What behaviors will you accept and where does your red line run? Where do you draw the line in the sand?

You must learn to verbalize your emotions, needs, preferences and choices without aggression but with assertiveness and clear determination.

Some abusers, narcissists for instance, are detached from reality. They avoid reality actively and they live in fantasies of everlasting and unconditional and perfect life. They refuse to accept the inevitable consequences of their own misdeeds and actions.

It is up to you to correct these cognitive and emotional deficits.

You may encounter opposition, even violence in extreme cases, but in the long run facing reality pays. Play it fair. Make a list, if need be, in writing of do's and don'ts. Create a tariff of sanctions and rewards. Let him know what actions or his or inaction on his part will trigger a dissolution of the relationship.

Be unambiguous and unequivocal about it and mean what you say.

Again, showing up for counseling must be a cardinal condition.

Yet even these simple, non-threatening initial steps are likely to provoke your abusive partner.

Abusers are narcissistic and they are possessed of alloplastic defenses. In other words, they feel superior entitled above any law and agreement and innocent victims of circumstances and people beyond their control.

Others, usually the real victims, are to blame for the abuser's abusive conduct.

A typical sentence is, see what you made me do, look what you have done to me.

How can one negotiate with such a person without in carrying his wrath? What is the meaning of contracts signed with bullies? How can one motivate the abuser to keep his end of the bargain, for instance, to actually seek therapy and attend the sessions? And how efficacious is psychotherapy or counseling to start with?

We will tackle all these questions in future videos. Stay tuned.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissist: Set Firm Personal Boundaries!

Personal boundaries are essential to protect oneself from abusive behavior. It is important to set boundaries clearly and communicate them to others, including the consequences of violating them. It is crucial to enforce boundaries consistently and involve law enforcement or friends and colleagues if necessary. One should be vigilant, doubting, and not gullible, and expose the abuser to their collaborators.

Stalker Psychology

Stalking is a form of abuse that continues long after a relationship has ended, with the majority of abusers getting the message. However, a minority of abusers, the more vindictive and obsessed ones, continue to stalk their ex-partners for years to come. These stalkers are typically lonely, violent, and intermittently unemployed, but they are rarely full-fledged criminals. Contrary to myths perpetrated by the mass media, studies show that most stalkers are men, have high IQs, advanced degrees, and are middle-aged.

Abuse By Proxy

Abusers often use third parties to control, coerce, threaten, stalk, tempt, seduce, harass, communicate, or manipulate their targets. They use the same mechanisms and devices to control these unaware instruments as they plan to control their ultimate prey. The abuser perverts the system, and therapists, marriage counselors, mediators, court-appointed guardians, police officers, and judges end up upholding the abuser's version and helping him further abuse his victims. The victim's children are the abuser's greatest source of leverage over his abused spouse or mate.

Abuse Victim as Hostage: Stockholm Syndrome and Trauma Bonding

Abusive relationships require two people to sustain, and the abuser and the abused form a bond and dependence. Society often refuses to tackle this phenomenon, and people, mostly women, remain in abusive households for various reasons. The abuser treats their spouse as an object, devoid of a separate existence and denuded of distinct needs, preferences, wishes, and priorities. The abuser exploits the vulnerabilities in the psychological make-up of their victim, and abusive behavior often indicates serious underlying psychopathologies.

Spot a Narcissist or a Psychopath on Your First Date

There are warning signs to identify abusers and narcissists early on in a relationship. One of the first signs is the abuser's tendency to blame others for their mistakes and failures. Other signs include hypersensitivity, eagerness to commit, controlling behavior, patronizing and condescending manner, and devaluing the partner. Abusers may also idealize their partner, have sadistic sexual fantasies, and switch between abusive and loving behavior. Paying attention to body language can also reveal warning signs.

Body Language of Narcissistic and Psychopathic Abuser

Abusers emit subtle signals in their body language that can be observed and discerned. They adopt a posture of superiority and entitlement, and they idealize or devalue their interlocutors. Abusers are shallow and prefer show-off to substance, and they are serious about themselves. They lack empathy, are sadistic, and have inappropriate affect. They are adept at casting a veil of secrecy over their dysfunction and misbehavior, and they succeed in deceiving the entire world.

Psychopathic Bully and Stalker

Stalking is a crime and stalkers are criminals, yet the horrid consequences of stalking are often underestimated. Many criminals, and therefore many stalkers, suffer from personality disorders, most prevalently the antisocial personality disorder, formerly known as psychopathy. Psychopaths regard other people as objects to be manipulated, in instruments of gratification and utility. The best coping strategy is to convince the psychopath that messing with your life or with your nearest is going to cost him dearly.

Coping with Stalkers: Psychopaths, Narcissists, Paranoids, Erotomaniacs

Stalkers come in different types, including erotomaniac, narcissistic, paranoid, and anti-social or psychopathic. Coping techniques suited to one type of stalker may backfire or prove to be futile with another. The best coping strategy is to first identify the type of abuser you are faced with. It is essential to avoid all contact with your stalker, but being evaded only inflames the stalker's wrath and enhances his frustration.

Coping Styles: Narcissist Abuses "Loved" Ones Despite Abandonment Anxiety

Narcissists abuse their loved ones to decrease their abandonment anxiety, restore their sense of grandiosity, and test their partner's loyalty. Abuse also serves as a form of behavior modification, as it signals to the partner that they need to modify their behavior to avoid abuse. Coping styles for dealing with abuse include submissiveness, conflicting, mirroring, collusion, and displacement, but some of these styles can be harmful and should be avoided.

The Shock of Abuse

Abusers are skilled at hiding their abusive behavior from the rest of the world, often with the help of their victims. A study of 30 women who survived attempted homicide by their intimate partners found that half of them were completely surprised by the attack, despite having been victims of previous episodes of abuse. Victims often rationalize the abuser's behavior and feel guilty, believing they are to blame for the misconduct. Classic risk factors for attempted homicide by an intimate partner include escalating episodes of violence, threats with or use of weapons, alcohol or drug use, and violence to children.

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