System Re-victimizes, Pathologizes Victim, Sides with Offender, Abuser

Uploaded 6/22/2014, approx. 8 minute read

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

The system, academic institutions, the courts, law enforcement agencies, the police, evaluators, custodians, the system doesn't take victims of abuse seriously. It seeks to pathologize and diminish them. It sides very often with the offender.

Consider academe.

It is telling that precious few psychology, clinical psychology, and psychopathology textbooks dedicate an entire chapter to abuse and violence. Even the most egregious manifestations, such as child sexual abuse, merit a fleeting mention, usually as a sub-sub-chapter, in a larger section dedicated to paraphilias or to personality disorders.

Abusive behavior did not make it into the diagnostic criteria of mental health disorders, nor were its psychodynamic, cultural and social roots explored in depth for a very long time.

As a result of this deficient education, lacking awareness and neglect, most law enforcement officers, judges, counselors, guardians and mediators are worryingly ignorant about the phenomenon of abuse and domestic and family violence.

Only four percent of hospital emergency room admissions of women in the United States are attributed by staff to domestic violence. The true figure, according to the FBI, is more like fifty percent.

One in three murdered women was done in by her spouse, current or former.

The United States Department of Justice paves the number of spouses, mostly women, threatened with a deadly weapon at almost two million annually.

Domestic violence erupts in a mind-boggling huff of all American homes at least once a year.

Nor are these isolated out-of-the-blue incidents. These treatment and violence are a part of an enduring pattern of maladaptive behavior within the relationship. They are sometimes coupled with substance abuse.

Abusers are possessive, ethologically jealous, dependent and often narcissistic.

Invariably, both the abuser and his victim seek to conceal the abusive episodes and their aftermath from family, friends, neighbors or colleagues.

This dismal state of affairs is an abuser's and stalkers' paradise. This is especially true with psychological, verbal and emotional abuse, which leaves no visible marks and renders the victim incapable of coherence in the aftermath.

Still, there is no typical offender.

Maltreatment crosses racial, cultural, social and economic lines.

This is because, until very recently, abuse has constituted normative, socially acceptable, sometimes even condoned behavior. For the bulk of human history, women and children were considered no better than property.

Indeed, well into the 18th century, they still made it into lists of assets and liabilities of the household. Early legislation in America, fashioned after European law, law both and the subsequent continental, permitted wife beating and battering for the purpose of behavioral defecation.

The circumference of the stick used to beat the wife specified the statute should not exceed that of the husband's thumb.

Inevitably, many victims blame themselves for this dismal state of things.

The abuse party may have low self-esteem or a fluctuating sense of self-worth, primitive defense mechanisms, phobias, mental health problems, a disability, a history of failure or a tendency to blame herself or feel inadequate, what we call autoplastic neurosis. She may have come from an abusive family or environment, which conditioned her to expect abuse as inevitable and normal.

It is her comfort zone, she knows the ropes.

In extreme and rare cases, the victim is a masochist, possessed of an urge to seek ill-treatment and pain.

Gradually, the victims convert these unhealthy emotions and their learned helplessness in the face of persistent gas-libby into psychosomatic symptoms, anxiety, panic attacks, depression or inextremists, suicidal ideations and gestures.

Therapists, marriage counselors, mediators, court-appointed guardians, police officers and judges are all human. Some of them are social reactionaries, others are narcissistic and a few are themselves spouse abusers.

Many things work against the victim, facing the justice system and the psychological profession.

Start with denial, abuse is such a horrid phenomenon that society and its delegates often choose to ignore it or to convert it into a more benign manifestation.

Typically they do this by pathologizing the situation or pathologizing the victim rather than the perpetrator.

A man's home is still his castle and the authorities are loathe to intrude upon what is called euphemistically domestic disputes.

Most abuses are men, most victims are women. Even the most advanced communities in the world are still largely patriarchal. Misogynistic gender stereotypes, superstitions and prejudices are strong everywhere.

And therapists are not immune to these ubiquitous and age-old influences and biases. They are amenable to considerable, to the considerable charm, the persuasiveness, the suave-ness and manipulativeness of the abuser and his impressive thespian acting skills.

The abuser offers a plausible rendition of the events and interprets them in his favor.

The therapist rarely has a chance to witness an abusive exchange first hand and at close quarters.

In contrast, the abused are often on the verge of another's breakdown, harassed and camped, irritable, impatient, abrasive and hysterical.

Confronted with this contrast between a polished self-control and suave abuser and his harried casualties, it is easy to reach a conclusion that the real victim is the abuser or that both parties abuse each other equally.

The praise acts of self-defense, assertiveness or insistence on their rights are interpreted as aggression, lability or a mental health problem.

Women are often diagnosed as borderline personality disorder, merely because they insist on their boundaries.

The profession's propensity to pathologize extend to the wrongdoers as well.

Alas, few therapists are equipped to do proper clinical work, including diagnosis.

Abusers are thought by practitioners of psychology to be emotionally disturbed.

The twisted outcomes of a history of familial violence and childhood traumas are typically diagnosed as suffering from a personality disorder and inordinately low self-esteem or co-dependence coupled with an all-devouring fear of abandonment.

Consummate abusers use the right vocabulary and feign the appropriate emotions and affect and thus sway the evaluator's judgment.

But while the victim's pathology works against her, especially in custody battles, the culprit's illness works for him as a mitigating circumstance, especially in criminal proceedings.

In his seminal essay, Understanding the Battery of Visitation and Custody Disputes, Lundy Bancroft sums up the asymmetry in favor of the offender.

He says, Batteries adopt the role of a hurt, sensitive man who doesn't understand how things got so bad and just wants to work it all out for the good of the children.

He may cry in a use language that demonstrates considerable insight into his own feelings. He is likely to be skilled at explaining how other people have turned the victim against him and how she is denying him access to the children as a form of revenge.

He commonly accuses her of having mental health problems and may state that her family and friends agree with him. She is hysterical and that she is promiscuous.

The abuser tends to be comfortable lying, having years of practice and so can sound believable when making baseless statements. The abuser benefits when professionals believe that they can just tell who is lying and who is telling the truth and so fail to adequately investigate.

Because of the effects of trauma, the victim of battering will often seem hostile, disjointed and agitated, while the abuser appears friendly, articulate and calm.

Evaluators are thus tempted to conclude that the victim is the source of the problems in their relationship.

There is little the victim can do to educate the therapist or to prove to him who is the guilty party.

Mental health professionals are ego-centered as much as the next person. They are emotionally invested in opinions that they form or in their interpretation of the abusive relationship.

They perceive every disagreement with them is a challenge to their authority and unlikely to pathologize such behavior, labeling it resistance or worse.

In the process of mediation, marital therapy or evaluation, counselors frequently propose various techniques to ameliorate the abuse or bring it under control, orbitize the party that dares to object or turn these recommendations down.

Thus, an abuse victim who declines to have any further contact with her abuser and batterer is bound to be chastised by her therapist for obstinately refusing to constructively communicate with her violent spouse.

Better to play a goal and adopt the slick mannerisms of your own abuser.

Sadly, sometimes the only way to convince your therapist that it is not all in your head and that you are a victim is by being insincere and by staging a well-calibrated performance replete with the correct vocabulary.

Therapists have Pavlovian reactions to certain phrases and theories and to certain presenting signs and symptoms to certain behaviors during the first few sessions.

Learn these words, these catchphrases and how to behave in the first session and use them to your advantage. It is your only chance with a relatively hostile system.

You are the victim. Don't allow yourself to be re-victimized by those who are supposed to help you.

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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.

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.

Victim! System is Against You? Tips and Advice

The system is stacked against abuse victims, who are often re-abused by law enforcement officers, judges, guardians, evaluators, and therapists. Therapists are conditioned to respond favorably to specific verbal cues and behaviors, and the paradigm is that abuse is rarely one-sided. Victims are often labeled uncooperative, resistant, and even abusers if they refuse to participate in a treatment plan or communicate with their abuser. To navigate the system, victims should adopt the slick mannerisms of their abuser, use key phrases, attend every session, participate in a long-term treatment plan, and emphasize the welfare and well-being of their children.

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.

Narcissistic Abuser Cons System

Abusers are often able to deceive mental health and social welfare workers, even when the diagnosis is unequivocal. There are four types of mental health and law enforcement professionals and practitioners who can be co-opted by abusers: adulators, ignorant professionals, self-deceivers, and those who are actively deceived. Mental health professionals are often egocentric and emotionally invested in their opinions, and they may pathologize the behavior of victims who disagree with them. Victims of abuse may need to stage a well-calibrated performance to convince therapists that they are the victim.

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.

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.

It's All My Fault: I Provoked Him

Abusers tend to blame others for their misfortunes, mistakes, and misconduct, and believe that the world is a hostile place out to get them. Victims of abuse often adopt the abusers' point of view and begin to feel guilty and responsible for the abusers' reprehensible behaviors. Shared psychosis is a complex phenomenon with numerous psychodynamic roots, and victims may fear abandonment, grew up in dysfunctional families, or are simply masochistic. Victims should realize that abuse is never a form of expressing love and should analyze their relationship to determine if they can reframe their roles or if they need to plan a getaway.

The Abuser's Mind

Abusers suffer from dissociation, a mild form of multiple personality, and often have a dichotomy between their behavior at home and in public. They view their victims as two-dimensional representations, devoid of emotions and needs, and convert them into their own worldview. Abusers are often narcissists with low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence, and abuse is bred by fear of being mocked or betrayed. There are various forms of manipulation that constitute verbal and emotional abuse, including withholding, countering, discounting, blocking, blaming, and accusing.

Bullying as Art, Abuse as Craftsmanship

Abuse is about control and is often a primitive and immature reaction to life's circumstances. The abuser's primary colors include unpredictability, disproportionality of reaction, dehumanization, objectification, and abuse by proxy. The abuser engineers situations in which he is solely needed and generates his own indispensability in the victim's life. The abuser fosters an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, instability, unpredictability, and irritation, which erodes the victim's sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

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