My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
The system is stacked against the victim. The victim is repathologized and often re-abused by law enforcement officers, judges, guardians and litters, evaluators, and above all, therapists.
In the process of mediation, marital therapy, or evaluation, counselors frequently propose various techniques to ameliorate the abuse or bring it under control.
But these suggestions are actually dictates. They are orders, not recommendations.
Who retires the party, that dares object, or turn these suggestions down?
Thus, an abuse victim who declines to have any further contact with her, better with her offender, is bound to be chastised by her therapist for obstinately refusing to constructively communicate with her violent spouse.
So, what should a victim do in such a system?
Well, better to play ball and adopt the slick mannerisms of your 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.
In other words, behaviors during the first few sessions.
Learn these words, learn these behaviors, and use them to your advantage.
Regrettably, mental health professionals and practitioners, marital and couple therapists, counselors, are conditioned. They are conditioned by years of indoctrination and dogmatic education, and they are conditioned to respond favorably to specific verbal cues and behaviors.
The paradigm is that abuse is rarely one-sided. In other words, that it is invariably triggered either by the victim or by the mental health problems of the abuser.
Another common lie is that all mental health problems can be successfully treated one way, talk therapy, or another, medication.
And this whole complex of misinformation shifts the responsibility from the offender to his prey.
The abused victim must have done something to bring about her own mistreatment, or maybe she was simply emotionally unavailable to help the abuser with his problems.
Healing is guaranteed if only the victim were willing to participate in a treatment plan and communicate with the abuser.
So goes the orthodoxy. If the victim refuses to do so, if she refuses to have any further contact with the men who beat her, battered her, offended her, abused her verbally, psychologically, or mentally, in other words, if she refuses to risk further abuse and acts in self-defense, she is harshly judged by the therapist.
The victim is labeled uncooperative, resistant, and even, in some cases, an abuser.
The key is therefore in feigned acquiescence and collaboration with the therapy scheme, acceptance of his or her temptation of the events, and the use of key phrases such as, I wish to communicate work with the abuser, the word trauma or relationship, healing process, inner child, the good of the children, the importance of othering, significant other, use as much psychobabble as you can, learn the jargon, use it intelligently and sparingly, and you are bound to win the therapist's sympathy.
Above all, do not be assertive or aggressive, and do not overtly criticize the therapist or disagree with him or her.
I make the therapist sound like another potential narcissistic abuser, because in many cases he or she becomes one as they inadvertently collude with the abuser, invalidate the abuse, experiences, and pathologize the victim.
So here are some phrases to use. For the children's sake, I want to maintain constructive communication with my husband or wife.
The children need the ongoing presence of the other parent.
I wish to communicate work with the abuser on our issues. I wish to understand our relationship, help both sides achieve closure, and get on with their lives by life.
Use the phrase healing process.
And here are some things to do.
You should attend every session religiously and diligently. Never be late. Try not to cancel or reschedule meetings. Pay attention to your attire and makeup. Project a solid, conservative image. Do not make a disheveled and disjointed appearance. Never argue with a counselor or the evaluator. Never criticize him openly. If you have to disagree with him or her, do so elliptically and dispassionately.
Be to participate in a long-term treatment plan. Communicate with your abuser politely and reasonably. Do not let yourself get provoked. Do not throw temper tantrums. Do not threaten anyone, not even indirectly. Restrain your natural hostility. Talk calmly and articulately. Count to ten. Take a break. Have a smoke, if you must.
Repeatly emphasize that the welfare and well-being of your children is uppermost in your mind, over and above any other selfish desire or consideration.
Do these things and you may safely course through a treatment plan and through your interaction with the system.
Remember, it is stacked against you. Don't be a victim twice.