Month: October 2011

child, child abuser, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, children, cps, families, foster care, foster child, foster home, kids, safety, social services, system, texas
Involuntarily Suspended or Revoked Child Care Operations

From The Texas DFPS Website, here is a list of Involuntarily Suspended or Revoked Child Care Operations in the State of Texas – (I have listed only page 1 of the 34 pages of names on here. You can view the next pages of the list  by clicking here or on the Next Page link at the bottom of this list below.

There are 34 pages of these child care facilities that have been suspended or revoked from caring for children.  This list is compiled from facilities closed only within the last two years.  There are approximately 20 listed on each page. Multiply that by 34 pages, and get approximately 680 facilities closed involuntarily in a two year period – according to TDFPS.

 That averages to about 2 facilities a day.

I figure that in order for these facilities to be closed down –  they had to have done something pretty darn awful. After all, there are so many violations that are reported on the facilities that remained open – and those violations are bad enough to make you sick.  If they aren’t closed down for some of those violations, then i could not imagine what would have gotten these shut down – I don’t know if I reallt want to know..

Maybe thats why they don’t list why  – these facilities were closed …?

Oh yeah, this list does not include closings that are pending or still in review, either – so there’s no telling how many the list would grow to, if those were included too, eh ?

———————————————————–

From TDFPS:
This list only includes child care operations that have had a permit revoked or involuntarily suspended in the last two years. Child care operations that closed for other reasons or closed more than two years ago are not listed here. Also, this list only includes revocations or involuntary suspensions that are finalized, not those which are still under review or appeal. For further information, please contact your local Child Care Licensing office.
 
Type Revocation or Suspension
Operation/Caregiver Name & location 
  1. Revocation Michelle Y. Turner 2020 Sterne Avenue Apt 9C Palestine, TX 75803
  2. Revocation Tammie Nell Johnson 381 A C R 1370 Palestine, TX 75801
  3. Revocation Irma Irene Rey 1202 NW 5TH Andrews, TX 79714
  4. Revocation Feliciana G. Sanchez PO Box 732 Poteet, TX 78065
  5. Revocation Janie Villalobos PO Box 546 Charlotte, TX 78011
  6. Revocation Betty Jean Smith 18537 Hwy 159 West New Ulm, TX 78950
  7. Revocation Maron Thomas 8405 FM 1456 RD Bellville, TX 77418
  8. Revocation Rita Patek 227 Willow Sealy, TX 77474
  9. Revocation Elizabeth Ann Gonzales 1 Pine Point DR #201 Bastrop, TX 78602
  10. Revocation Jimmy Lee Taylor 405 Magnolia Bastrop, TX 78602
  11. Revocation Lillie Barnett 310 MLK JR DR Bastrop, TX 78602
  12. Revocation Brenda J. Grant 105 Prather DR Killeen, TX 76541
  13. Revocation Cleta Ennis 2313 Lily Killeen, TX 76542
  14. Revocation Cynthia S Benton 1225 Chippendale Dr Killeen, TX 76549
  15. Revocation Holly Lynn Rowland 3101 West Adams Ave # 266 Temple, TX 76504
  16. Revocation Juana Olsen 3208 Rampart Loop Killeen, TX 76542
  17. Revocation Latasha Carroway 2808 Daytona Dr Killeen, TX 76549
  18. Revocation Lorena Ortiz 2210 Herrington ST Belton, TX 76513
  19. Revocation Mary Macomber 1704 Fox Trl Harker Heights, TX 76548
  20. Revocation Aida Ross 158 Cherry Ridge San Antonio, TX 78213

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abuse, Gov Rick Perry, government, system failure
Perry Downplayed Allegations at Centers for Disabled

Perry Downplayed Allegations at Centers for Disabled

  • by Emily Ramshaw, The Texas Tribune
    • 10/24/2011
  • Part two of two.

    Yesterday: Two years after Texas leaders signed a federal agreement to improve care at the state’s institutions, not even a quarter of its terms have been met, and mistreatment is still commonplace.

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign hinges on one overarching message: that states perform best when left to their own devices and federal regulators should butt out. Yet during his decade-long tenure in the governor’s office, Perry and his staff repeatedly downplayed the severity of abuse and neglect allegations at Texas’ state-run institutions for the disabled — until conditions became so dire that the U.S. attorney general was forced to intervene.

    “They haven’t taken it seriously,” said Joe Tate, a policy specialist with Community Now!, an organization that supports the closure of Texas’ institutions for the disabled. “We hear all the time from lawmakers that there’s not the political will to make changes. That political will — the knowledge that we have deadly, dangerous institutions — could come from the governor’s office.”

    Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said the governor’s office has taken reports of abuse and neglect in Texas’ state-supported living centers seriously from the very beginning. Early in his first term, he signed legislation and issued an executive order designed to improve conditions and give disabled residents more options to move out of the institutions.

    In 2005, when he learned problems in the state-supported living centers had not abated, his office said he made sure the Department of Aging and Disability Services, which oversees Texas’ 13 institutions, had the resources to fund reform.

    “Gov. Perry is committed to ensuring the safety of the residents in these facilities, and we take each of these claims very seriously,” Nashed said. “We continue to monitor the progress they are making toward meeting the terms of the agreement.”

    But a look back at the timeline of abuse reports — and the response of the governor’s office to them — paints a far more nuanced picture.

    After the U.S. Department of Justice released a report critical of conditions at the Lubbock State School in 2006 — saying there had been more than 17 deaths there in 18 months — the governor’s office suggested the problems had already been solved.

    “Some would like to ramp up another emotional issue,” Perry spokesman Robert Black said at the time, referring to a recent abuse and neglect scandal in Texas’ juvenile justice system, the Texas Youth Commission (TYC).

    When a 2007 Dallas Morning News investigation found hundreds of mentally and physically disabled residents of the state-supported living centers had suffered serious abuse at the hands of those paid to watch over them, Perry’s office cautioned against any assumptions that the system was flawed and said despite reports of physical and sexual assault, the centers shouldn’t be compared to the abuse-ridden TYC.

    “It’s important not to sensationalize these incidents,” then-spokeswoman Krista Moody said. “They should not be portrayed as though they happened yesterday and no action has been taken.”

    And in August 2008, when the Justice Department announced it was going to investigate conditions inside all of Texas’ institutions for the disabled — not just in Lubbock — Perry’s office was unfazed.

    “We expected that [the Department of Justice] would expand their investigation to all state schools as they have done in other states,” spokeswoman Allison Castle said. She added that the governor is “always interested in ways to improve state government.”

    Four months later — and two years after the original Justice Department report — the U.S. attorney general’s office sent Perry a 60-page letter threatening legal action if Texas didn’t resolve the problems, including residents dying of preventable conditions and hundreds of employees being fired for abuse and neglect.

    Only when faced with legal action and monetary damages did Perry’s tone shift: In February 2009 he declared protecting the residents of Texas’ institutions for the disabled a legislative emergency. In May 2009, the state reached an agreement with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to spend $112 million over five years to improve care and enhance staffing at the institutions.

    Asked at the time why it had taken so long to pass needed legislation, Perry said that health and human services agencies have “always been difficult to address” and that Texas was a big state with lots of needs. “My focus has always been, when an issue bubbles up to the top, to bring in the best people you can find,” he said.

    Halfway through the five-year settlement agreement, Texas’ federally appointed watchdog group says the state has met just 20 percent of the standards required to comply. To this, too, the governor’s office is taking a glass-half-full approach.

    “The governor expects DADS to continue to work toward full compliance of the settlement agreement,” Nashed said. “While there is still work to be done, each facility and their staff continue to make significant progress toward substantial compliance, including better reporting, investigation, prosecution and firing of individuals who commit these crimes.

    Back To Top

    This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-state-agencies/aging-and-disability-services/perry-downplayed-abuse-institutions-disabled/.

    cps
    Kids Who Survived CPS Collin County Finally Speak Out

    If THIS DOESN’T BREAK YOUR HEART – YOU DON’T HAVE ONE.

    THE LITTLE GIRL THAT GOT TO TELL HER STORY – HALLELUJAH TO HER  – GOD BLESS HER AND HER FAMILY

    [youtube=http://youtu.be/rsecjAlQhQM]

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=5B5Enu3NLqk]

    [youtube=http://youtu.be/71gXED76b_A]

    [youtube=http://youtu.be/etB2-IFdja0]

    [youtube=http://youtu.be/jTqdEV2Hb4g]

    [youtube=http://youtu.be/IWWC0BXXgsY]

    accountability, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, foster care, government, reform, social services, system failure, texas, welfare reform
    ‘Major epidemic’ Says the BBC – UK Investigates Child Abuse in the U.S.

    America’s child death shame 

    Every five hours a child dies from abuse or neglect in the US.

    The latest government figures show an estimated 1,770 children were killed as a result of maltreatment in 2009.

    A recent congressional report concludes the real number could be nearer 2,500.  In fact, America has the worst child abuse record in the industrialized world.

    Why?

    The BBC’s Natalia Antelava investigates. (VIDEO)
    Sixty-six children under the age of 15 die from physical abuse or neglect every week in the industrialized world. Twenty-seven of those die in the US – the highest number of any other country.
    Even when populations are taken into account, Unicef research from 2001 places the US equal bottom with Mexico on child deaths from maltreatment.
    In Texas, one of the states with the worst child abuse records, the Dallas Children’s Medical Center is dealing with a rising number of abused children and increasing levels of violence.
    Meanwhile, the Houston Center is expanding its services to deal with the rising problem of child sex abuse.
     
    (Video) 
     The doctor’s experience 
     

     
    (Video)
    Inside a Houston help center

    Emma’s story

    Emma Thompson was just four years old when she was beaten to death in 2009. Her injuries included broken ribs, a bloodied lip, widespread bruising and a fractured skull. She had also been raped.Her mother and her mother’s partner have been jailed over the abuse. But Emma’s father, Ben, believes his daughter was let down by everyone around her.

    (Video) ‘Everybody missed the signs’
     

    Who’s to blame?

    Just like Emma Thompson, hundreds more children fall through the cracks of the child protection system. Some blame overworked investigators and inefficient management, while others say it’s the federal government’s drive to keep families together that is the problem.
    But child protection officials in Texas, a state with one of the highest total number of child deaths from abuse and neglect in the US, say such cases are complicated and difficult to assess – especially when a child’s guardians are hiding what is really going on.
     
     
    Model of a child from a tv ad aimed at reducing abuse
    The Child Protection Challenge
     
     
     
     

    How to stop it

    In Washington, politicians are beginning to recognize what some now describe as a “national crisis”.A congressional hearing in July heard from experts in the field about what can be done to prevent deaths from child abuse.

    A national commission is being set up to coordinate a country-wide response.Many believe home visits to new parents by qualified health professionals, preparing them for the difficulties of family life, are key to that strategy.

    (video) Teaching parents to be parentsTeenagers describe the challenges of having children young

    Cycle of violence

    While child abuse blights the lives of victims’ families, its devastating impact is felt far beyond relatives and friends.

    (Video) ‘You only know anger and violence’ 
    Victim Stacey Kananen on the lasting impact of abuse 
    Abused children are 74 times more likely to commit crimes against others and six times more likely to maltreat their own children, according to the Texas Association for the Protection of Children. For this reason, experts believe it is in the US government’s as well as society’s interest to ensure children are protected from abuse. 
     
    Each and every citizen, they say, has a responsibility to help break this cycle of violence.
    Design: Mark Bryson. Production: Franz Strasser, Bill McKenna, Lucy Rodgers and Luke Ward.

    EXPERTS VIEW

    Millions of children are reported as abused and neglected every year

    Why is the problem of violence against children so much more acute in the US than anywhere else in the industrialized world, asks Michael Petit, President of Every Child Matters.

    Over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The child maltreatment death rate in the US is triple Canada’s and 11 times that of Italy. Millions of children are reported as abused and neglected every year. Why is that?

    Downward spiral

    Part of the answer is that teen pregnancy, high-school dropout, violent crime, imprisonment, and poverty – factors associated with abuse and neglect – are generally much higher in the US.

    Michael Petit

    “The sharp differences between the states raises the question of an expanded federal role” Michael Petit – Every Child Matters

    Further, other rich nations have social policies that provide child care, universal health insurance, pre-school, parental leave and visiting nurses to virtually all in need.

    In the US, when children are born into young families not prepared to receive them, local social safety nets may be frayed, or non-existent. As a result, they are unable to compensate for the household stress the child must endure.

    In the most severe situations, there is a predictable downward spiral and a child dies. Some 75% of these children are under four, while nearly half are under one.

    Geography matters a lot in determining child well-being. Take the examples of Texas and Vermont.

    Texas prides itself in being a low tax, low service state. Its per capita income places it in the middle of the states, while its total tax burden – its willingness to tax itself – is near the bottom.

    Vermont, in contrast, is at the other extreme. It is a high-tax, high-service state.

    Mix of risks

    In looking at key indicators of well-being, children from Texas are twice as likely to drop out of high school as children from Vermont. They are four times more likely to be uninsured, four times more likely to be incarcerated, and nearly twice as likely to die from abuse and neglect.

    Texas spending

    • $6.25 billion (£4.01bn) spent in 2007 on direct and indirect costs dealing with after-effects of child abuse and neglect
    • $0.05 billion (£0.03bn) budgeted in 2011 for prevention and early intervention
    Source: Univ of Houston, TexProtects

    In Texas, a combination of elements add to the mix of risks that a child faces. These include a higher poverty rate in Texas, higher proportions of minority children, lower levels of educational attainment, and a political culture which holds a narrower view of the role of government in addressing social issues.

    Texas, like many other traditionally conservative states, is likely to have a weaker response to families that need help in the first place, and be less efficient in protecting children after abuse occurs.

    The sharp differences between the states raises the question of an expanded federal role.

    Are children Texas children first? Or are they first American children with equal opportunity and protection?

    Blame parents?

    A national strategy, led by our national government, needs to be developed and implemented. For a start, the Congress should adopt legislation that would create a National Commission to End Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.

    Woman holding a baby
    Nearly half the child fatalities in 2009 were children under the age of one

    And no children’s programmes should be on the chopping block, federal or state. Children did not crash the US economy. It is both shortsighted economic policy and morally wrong to make them pay the price for fixing it.

    But instead as the US economy lags, child poverty soars, and states cut billions in children’s services, we are further straining America’s already weak safety net.

    Inevitably, it means more children will die. The easy answer is to blame parents and already burdened child protection workers. But easy answers don’t solve complex problems.

    And with millions of children injured and thousands killed, this problem is large indeed, and it deserves a large response.

    Michael Petit is the president of Every Child Matters. He served as the state of Maine’s human services commissioner, and as deputy of the Child Welfare League of America.

    Related Internet links: 
    Justice for Children 
    Every Child Matters
    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites
     Your comments (66) This entry is now closed for comments

    Comment number66.

     cka1
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 23:21

    Virgil – Thank you for the full report. My guess is that DC isn’t a state and Nevada has a whole host of other religious issues that would make counting impossible. It is legal for a man to marry multiple underage wives of which he is related. Doesn’t happen in any other state, at least not legally. Wyoming and Montana barely have 100,000 children in them, so statistically not significant.

    Comment number65.

     thehughes69
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 22:51

    we in the uk need to worry about staying under torie leadership any longer, sorry to knock the yanks but were starting to see steps towards private healthcare like the us where the poor are left behind and the lowering of funds into social services with money going elsewhere bit like texas ey

    Comment number64.

     Karen Spears Zacharias
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 22:48

    Once again the BBC proves why it’s a news source I turn to as a journalist. Here you are doing the story that America journalists shy away from. For the past five years, I’ve been at work on a book about this issue. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] I applaud Natalia Antelava & BBC for the courage in addressing this national shame.

    Comment number63.

     marie
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 22:48

    contd No part of the world is free from this horror, but some parts of the world have far less abuse of children. It makes sense to discover possible reasons why this might be so; those countries with higher stats might then learn from this & be able to do so much more to protect their vulnerable children.

    Comment number62.

     marie
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 22:37

    @ 56 Why on earth would anyone jeer at the spectre of child abuse, whether it takes place in the USA, UK or on the Indian subcontinent?
    By comparing figures across the world & looking at factors implicated such as poverty, educational levels, aswell as care provision, steps can be taken to reduce child abuse in areas where it is high, improving the lives &mortality of children who live there.

    Comment number61.

     thehughes69
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 22:33

    bit of an eye opener
    think its a piece about the surprise that a country like the us has these problems were others are maybe known about

    Comment number60.

     inthewakeofautism
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 22:27

    I would like to see the statistics on children killed who are living with both their Biological parents vs those with non biological parents especially people referred to as partners in the article. I think living arrangements contribute to this most heinous of acts.

    Comment number59.

     thekuhl1
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 22:10

    Where is China in this report or India??

    Comment number58.

     thekuhl1
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 21:55

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

    Comment number57.

     HMayhan
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 21:40

    I am not saying there isn’t a problem with violence against children in the US. In fact I agree it is ridiculously commonplace. But reading this on a BBC website smacks of the pot calling the kettle black. Hardly a day goes by on the UK section of this website without news of a kid getting killed in the UK.

    Comment number56.

     kcwhattrick
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 21:24

    Why is it that Europeans take tragedies such as this and use them to jeer other countries? It’s very strange and somewhat perverted behavior. A normal person would feel horror and sadness at such a thing happening to children, yet the Europeans use it more as a way of saying “Ha, knew things were better over here all along.” Really sad way of behaving.

    Comment number55.

     assynt1
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 21:06

    Once you start helping these kids, you can’t stop. They will truly motivate you. I always say that they deserve not just good care, but the BEST care we can give them as a community. One more thing on perp stats. There is a type of abuse that used to be called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, now called Medical Child Abuse. Mothers are almost exclusively the perpetrators in that case.

    Comment number54.

     tre4w
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 20:57

    as a student social worker this piece really galvanises me to get out there and make a difference in the lives of kids, although i’m going to have to get past the gut wrenching reaction it provokes in me first…

    Comment number53.

     assynt1
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 20:58

    You are welcome for the info. There are certain scenarios where it is “classic” to have a male perp (unrelated male living in the household as a risk for sexual abuse). If we think about the stressors that influence abuse and neglect (poverty, single parent, lack of social support, young age) and who the primary caretakers are, it’s no wonder that moms are more common in overall numbers.

    Comment number52.

     stebsb
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 20:44

    @assynt1:

    Thanks for the info – although I’m not as informed on the subject as I’d like to be (and as you are obviously are!) I was surprised in what I’d read how women were more likely to be abusive than I’d thought; and I was also shocked to read how some feminists simply deny that female abuse occurs, insisting it’s virtually exclusively inflicted by men.

    Comment number51.

     assynt1
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 20:38

    The perpetrators are parents 75% of the time, with mothers as the most common at 1/3, both together at 1/5 and just dads at around 1/5. This is likely because mothers tend to be caring for the kids more and so have more access. The only exception is child sexual abuse where the abusers are overwhelmingly male at 90%.

    Comment number50.

     assynt1
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 20:36

    Reply to question about geneder of perp and vics. In US, overall girls and boys are victimized at the same rate. Girls are higher for sexual abuse and boys are slightly higher for physical abuse. Neglect, though, is the number one type of abuse and occurs in equal numbers of boys and girls.

    Comment number49.

     Bb
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 20:26

    Parental rights far out way the children needs. I am personally aware of children placed in good foster homes, then removed and placed back with their abusive family.

    The second issue is Right to life vs Right to choice, both should focus their resources on unwanted pregnancy. That would cut down on abortions and unwanted babies.

    Comment number48. rich
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 20:22

    Interesting to note that the comparative numbers are given for Canada and Italy. Based on the numbers in this report Italy has 181 child homicides a year. The UK by comparison has around 60 per year

    http://www.nspcc.org.uk/inform/research/statistics/child_homicide_statistics_wda48747.html – Now who was it that said that British social workers were failing?

    Comment number47.

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     ChildPerson
    17TH OCTOBER 2011 – 20:01

    Supreme Court refused to take on any responsibility for child abuse, because, wrote Chief Rehnquist in DeShaney v. Winnebago County, 1989, “A state’s failure to protect an individual against private violence” was not a denial of the victim’s rights as the state…”played no part in their [dangers to the child]creation, nor did it do anything to render him any more vulnerable to them.” Joshua died

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    cps
    EXPLORING THE MIND OF AN ABUSER

    Originally posted in September 2009 with the article HELP! I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE BOOGEYMAN!  With the end of October upon us, and October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I felt like re-posting this wonderful article. 

    EXPLORING THE MIND OF AN ABUSER

    To embark on our exploration of the abusive mind, we first need to agree on a taxonomy of abusive behaviors. Methodically observing abuse is the surest way of getting to know the perpetrators. Abusers appear to be suffering from dissociation (multiple personality). At home, they are intimidating and suffocating monsters – outdoors, they are wonderful, caring, giving, and much-admired pillars of the community.

    Why this duplicity?

    It is only partly premeditated and intended to disguise the abuser’s acts. More importantly, it reflects his inner world, where the victims are nothing but two-dimensional representations, objects, devoid of emotions and needs, or mere extensions of his self. Thus, to the abuser’s mind, his quarries do not merit humane treatment, nor do they evoke empathy. Typically, the abuser succeeds to convert the abused into his worldview. The victim – and his victimizers – don’t realize that something is wrong with the relationship.

    This denial is common and all-pervasive. It permeates other spheres of the abuser’s life as well. Such people are often narcissists – steeped in grandiose fantasies, divorced from reality, besotted with their false Self, consumed by feelings of omnipotence, omniscience, entitlement, and paranoia. Contrary to stereotypes, both the abuser and his prey usually suffer from disturbances in the regulation of their sense of self-worth.

    Low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence render the abuser – and his confabulated self – vulnerable to criticism, disagreement, exposure, and adversity – real or imagined.

    Abuse is bred by fear – fear of being mocked or betrayed, emotional insecurity, anxiety, panic, and apprehension.

    It is a last ditch effort to exert control – for instance, over one’s spouse – by “annexing” her, “possessing” her, and “punishing” her for being a separate entity, with her own boundaries, needs, feelings, preferences, and dreams.

    In her seminal tome, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship”, Patricia Evans lists the various forms of manipulation which together constitute verbal and emotional (psychological) abuse:

    • Withholding (the silent treatment),
    • countering (refuting or invalidating the spouse’s statements or actions),
    • discounting (putting down her emotions, possessions, experiences, hopes, and fears),
    • sadistic and brutal humor,
    • blocking (avoiding a meaningful exchange, diverting the conversation,
    • changing the subject),
    • blaming and accusing,
    • judging and criticizing
    • undermining and sabotaging
    • , threatening,
    • name calling,
    • forgetting and denying,
    • ordering around,
    • denial,
    • and abusive anger.

    To these we can add:

    • Wounding “honesty”
    • ignoring, smothering
    • dotting
    • unrealistic expectations
    • invasion of privacy,
    • tactlessness,
    • sexual abuse,
    • physical maltreatment,
    • humiliating,
    • shaming,
    • insinuating,
    • lying,
    • exploiting,
    • devaluing and discarding,
    • being unpredictable,
    • reacting disproportionately,
    • dehumanizing & objectifying,
    • abusing confidence & intimate information,
    • engineering impossible situations,
    • control by proxy & ambient abuse.

    In his comprehensive essay, “Understanding the Batterer in Custody and Visitation Disputes”, Lundy Bancroft observes:

    “Because of the distorted perceptions that the abuser has of rights and responsibilities in relationships, he considers himself to be the victim. Acts of self-defense on the part of the battered woman or the children, or efforts they make to stand up for their rights, he defines as aggression AGAINST him.

    He is often highly skilled at twisting his descriptions of events to create the convincing impression that he has been victimized. He thus accumulates grievances over the course of the relationship to the same extent that the victim does, which can lead professionals to decide that the members of the couple ‘abuse each other’ and that the relationship has been ‘mutually hurtful’.”

    Yet, whatever the form of ill-treatment and cruelty – the structure of the interaction and the roles played by abuser and victim are the same. Identifying these patterns – and how they are influenced by prevailing social and cultural mores, values, and beliefs – is a first and indispensable step towards recognizing abuse, coping with it, and ameliorating its inevitable and excruciatingly agonizing aftermath.


    A critical reading of R. Lundy Bancroft’s Essay –Understanding the Batterer in Custody and Visitation Disputes (1998)

    Bancroft’s essay is indispensable reading to anyone in the throes of separation, divorce, or custody proceedings.

    Alas, Bancroft, like numerous other mental health professionals, fails to identify pathological narcissism when confronted with it. Astonishingly – and tellingly – the word “narcissism” is not mentioned even once in a very long text on abuse.

    He concludes:

    “Although a percentage of batterers have psychological problems, the majority do not.

    They are often thought to have low self-esteem, high insecurity, dependent personalities, or other results from childhood wounds, but in fact batterers are a cross-section of the population with respect to their emotional make-up.”

    Follows Bancroft’s profile of a typical abuser in the very same article.

    Doesn’t it strike you as the description of a malignant narcissist?  If it does, you are right. Bancroft, unwittingly, describes a pathological, malignant narcissist to a tee!

    Yet, he is totally blind to it.

    This lack of awareness of mental health practitioners is common. They often under-diagnose or misdiagnose pathological narcissism!

    Bancroft’s PROFILE of the TYPICAL ABUSER (actually, of a malignant narcissist)

    The batterer is controlling; he insists on having the last word in arguments and decision-making, he may control how the family’s money is spent, and he may make rules for the victim about her movements and personal contacts, such as forbidding her to use the telephone or to see certain friends.

    He is manipulative; he misleads people inside and outside of the family about his abusiveness, he twists arguments around to make other people feel at fault, and he turns into a sweet, sensitive person for extended periods of time when he feels that it is in his best interest to do so. His public image usually contrasts sharply with the private reality.

    He is entitled; he considers himself to have special rights and privileges not applicable to other family members. He believes that his needs should be at the center of the family’s agenda, and that everyone should focus on keeping him happy.

    He typically believes that it is his sole prerogative to determine when and how sexual relations will take place, and denies his partner the right to refuse (or to initiate) sex. He usually believes that housework and childcare should be done for him, and that any contributions he makes to those efforts should earn him special appreciation and deference. He is highly demanding.

    He is disrespectful; he considers his partner less competent, sensitive, and intelligent than he is, often treating her as though she were an inanimate object. He communicates his sense of superiority around the house in various ways.

    The unifying principle is his attitude of ownership.

    The batterer believes that once you are in a committed relationship with him, you belong to him. This possessiveness in batterers is the reason why killings of battered women so commonly happens when victims are attempting to leave the relationship; a batterer does not believe that his partner has the right to end a relationship until he is ready to end it.

    Because of the distorted perceptions that the abuser has of rights and responsibilities in relationships, he considers himself to be the victim. Acts of self-defense on the part of the battered woman or the children, or efforts they make to stand up for their rights, he defines as aggression against him. He is often highly skilled at twisting his descriptions of events to create the convincing impression that he has been victimized. He thus accumulates grievances over the course of the relationship to the same extent that the victim does, which can lead professionals to decide that the members of the couple “abuse each other” and that the relationship has been ‘mutually hurtful.”

    It seems that CONTROL is the problem – not VIOLENCE.

    Bancroft writes:

    “A significant proportion of batterers required to attend counseling because of a criminal conviction have been violent only one to five times in the history of their relationship, even by the victim’s account. Nonetheless, the victims in these cases report that the violence has had serious effects on them and on their children, and that the accompanying pattern of controlling and disrespectful behaviors are serving to deny the rights of family members and are causing trauma.

    Thus the nature of the pattern of cruelty, intimidation, and manipulation is the crucial factor in evaluating the level of abuse, not just the intensity and frequency of physical violence. In my decade of working with abusers, involving over a thousand cases, I have almost never encountered a client whose violence was not accompanied by a pattern of psychological abusiveness.”

    “An abuser’s desire for control often intensifies as he senses the relationship slipping away from him. He tends to focus on the debt he feels his victim owes him, and his outrage at her growing independence.”

    RIGHT vs. NEED

    Bancroft says:

    “Most batterers do not have an inordinate need for control, but rather feel an inordinate right to control under family and partnership circumstances.”

    But the distinction Bancroft makes between “need” and “right” is spurious. If you think that you have the right to something, you concomitantly feel the need to have your right asserted, accepted, and enforced.

    If someone violates your rights, you get frustrated and angry because your need to have your rights respected and enforced hasn’t been met.

    I also strongly disagree with Bancroft – as does a huge volume of research – that control freakery can be limited to home. A control freak is a control freak everywhere! Controlfreakery, though, manifests in a myriad ways. Obsessing, acting compulsively, and being overly inquisitive, for instance, are all forms of exerting control.

    Sometimes controlling behavior is very difficult to identify: a smothering or dotting mother, a “friend” who keeps “guiding” you, a neighbor who compulsively takes out your garbage …

    This is exactly what stalkers do. They cannot get someone to commit to a relationship (real or delusional). They then proceed to “control” the unwilling partner by harassing, threatening and invading his or her life.

    From the outside, it is often impossible to identify many of these behaviors as abusive control.

    NURTURE vs. CULTURE

    Bancroft observes that “…battering behavior is mostly driven by culture rather than by individual psychology.”

    Culture and society do play an important part.

    As I say here:

    http://samvak.tripod.com/abusefamily.html

    “The abuser may be functional or dysfunctional, a pillar of society, or a peripatetic con-artist, rich or poor, young or old. There is no universally-applicable profile of the “typical abuser”.

    And here:

    http://samvak.tripod.com/abuse.html

    “Abuse and violence cross geographical and cultural boundaries and social and economic strata. It is common among the rich and the poor, the well-educated and the less so, the young and the middle-aged, city dwellers and rural folk. It is a universal phenomenon.”

    Still, it is wrong to attribute abusive behavior exclusively to one set of parameters (psychology), or to another (culture-society). The mixture does it.

    Lundy Bancroft on batterers, David Hare on the subject of psychopathy (and, modesty notwithstanding, myself on pathological narcissism) represent a breed of mavericks, rejected by the “experts” and “professionals” in their fields. But they are both, to my mind, authorities. Their experience is invaluable. Whether they are good at constructing theories and generalizing their experience is a different matter altogether. Their contribution is mainly phenomenological, not theoretical.

    Statistics show that intimate partner abuse, including domestic violence, has declined by one half in the last decade in the United States. Jay Silverman and Gail Williamson demonstrated in “Social Ecology and Entitlements Involved in Battering by Heterosexual College Males” (published in Violence and Victims, Volume 12, Number 2, Spring 1997) is that abuse is best predicted by two factors: the belief that mistreatment is justified and the succor of peers.

    These two facts elucidate the cultural and social roots of abusive behavior. Abuse is bound to be found in patriarchal,narcissistic, or misogynistic collectives. Many societies exhibit cross sections of these three traits. Thus, most patriarchal groups are also misogynistic, either overtly and ideologically so – or covertly and in denial.

    Paradoxically, women’s lib initially makes things worse. The first period of social dislocation – when gender roles are redefined – often witnesses a male backlash in the form of last ditch patriarchy and last resort violence, trying to restore the “ancient regime”. But as awareness and acceptance of women’s equal rights grow, abuse is frowned upon and, consequently, declines.

    Alas, four fifths of humanity are far from this utopian state of things. Even in the most prosperous, well-educated, and egalitarian societies of the West there are sizable pockets of ill-treatment that cut across all demographic and social-economic categories.

    Women are physically weaker and, despite recent strides, economically deprived or restricted. This makes them ideal victims – dependent, helpless, devalued. Even in the most advanced societies, women are still expected to serve their husbands, maintain the family, surrender their autonomy, and abrogate their choices and preferences if incompatible with the ostensible breadwinner’s. Women are also widely feared. The more primitive, poorer, or less educated the community – the more women are decried as evil temptresses, whores, witches, possessors of mysterious powers, defilers, contaminants, inferior, corporeal (as opposed to spiritual), subversive, disruptive, dangerous, cunning, or lying.

    Violence is considered by members of such collectives a legitimate means of communicating wishes, enforcing discipline, coercing into action, punishing, and gaining the approval of kin, kith, and peers. To the abuser, the family is an instrument of gratification – economic, narcissistic, and sexual. It is a mere extension of the offender’s inner world, and, thus, devoid of autonomy and independent views, opinions, preferences, needs, choices, emotions, fears, and hopes.

    Is abuse anomalous – or an inevitable part of human nature? If the former – is it the outcome of flawed genetics, nurture (environment and upbringing) – or both? Can it be “cured” – or merely modified, regulated, and accommodated? There are three groups of theories – three schools – regarding abusers and their conduct.

    I. Abuse as an Emergent Phenomenon

    The precipitous drop in intimate partner abuse in the last decade (especially in the West) seems to imply that abusive behavior is emergent and that its frequency fluctuates under given circumstances. It seems to be embedded in social and cultural contexts and to be a learned or acquired behavior. People who grew up in an atmosphere of domestic violence, for instance, tend to perpetuate and propagate it by abusing their own spouses and family members.

    Social stresses and anomy and their psychological manifestations foster domestic violence and child abuse. War or civil strife, unemployment, social isolation, single parenthood, prolonged or chronic sickness, unsustainably large family, poverty, persistent hunger, marital discord, a new baby, a dying parent, an invalid to be cared for, death of one’s nearest and dearest, incarceration, infidelity, substance abuse – have all proven to be contributing factors.

    II. Hard-Wired Abuse

    Abuse cuts across countries, continents, and disparate societies and cultures. It is common among the rich and the poor, the highly educated and the less so, people of all races and creeds. It is a universal phenomenon – and always has been, throughout the ages.

    More than half of all abusers do not come from abusive or dysfunctional households where they could have picked up this offensive comportment. Rather, it seems to “run in their blood”. Additionally, abuse is often associated with mental illness, now fashionably thought to be biological-medical in nature.

    Hence the hypothesis that abusive ways are not learned – but hereditary. There must be a complex of genes which controls and regulates abuse, goes the current thinking. Turning them off may well end the maltreatment.

    II.Abuse as a Strategy

    Some scholars postulate that all modes of behavior – abuse included – are results-orientated. The abuser seeks to control and manipulate his victims and develops strategies aimed at securing these results – see “What is Abuse” for details.

    Abuse is, therefore, an adaptive and functional behavior. Hence the difficulty encountered by both the offender and society in trying to modify and contain his odious demeanor.

    Yet, studying the very roots of abuse – social-cultural, genetic-psychological, and as a survival strategy – teaches us how to effectively cope with its perpetrators.

    Can abusers be “reconditioned”? Can they be “educated” or “persuaded” not to abuse?

    “Abuse is a multifaceted phenomenon. It is a poisonous cocktail of control-freakery, conforming to social andcultural norms, and latent sadism.

    The abuser seeks to subjugate his victims and ‘look good’ or ‘save face’ in front of family and peers.

    Many abusers also enjoy inflicting pain on helpless victims.”

    Tackling each of these three elements separately and in conjunction sometimes serves to ameliorate abusive behavior.

    The abuser’s need to control his environment is compulsive and motivated by fear of inevitable and painful loss. It has, therefore, emotional roots. The abuser’s past experiences – especially in early childhood and adolescence – taught him to expect injurious relationships, arbitrary or capricious treatment, sadistic interactions, unpredictable or inconsistent behaviors, and their culmination – indifferent and sudden abandonment.

    About half of all abusers are products of abuse – they have either endured or witnessed it. As there are many forms of past mistreatment – there are a myriad shades of prospective abuse. Some abusers have been treated by Primary Objects (parents or caregivers) as instruments of gratification, objects, or mere extensions. They were loved on condition that they satisfied the wishes, dreams, and (often unrealistic) expectations of the parent. Others were smothered and doted upon, crushed under overweening, spoiling, or overbearing caregivers. Yet others were cruelly beaten, sexually molested, or constantly and publicly humiliated.

    Such emotional wounds are not uncommon in therapeutic settings. They can be – and are – effectively treated, though the process is sometimes long and arduous, hampered by the abuser’s resistance to authority and narcissism.

    Some offenders abuse so as to conform to the norms of their society and culture and, thus, be “accepted” by peers and family. It is easier and more palatable to abuse one’s spouse and children in a patriarchal and misogynist society – than in a liberal and egalitarian one. That these factors are overwhelmingly important is evidenced by the precipitous decline in intimate partner violence in the United States in the last two decades. As higher education and mass communications became widespread, liberal and feminist strictures permeated all spheres of life. It was no longer “cool” to batter one’s mate.

    Some scholars say that the amount of abuse remained constant and that the shift was merely from violent to non-violent (verbal, emotional, and ambient) forms of mistreatment. But this is not supported by the evidence.

    Any attempt to recondition the abuser and alter the abusive relationship entails a change of social and cultural milieu. Simple steps like relocating to a different neighborhood, surrounded by a different ethnic group, acquiring a higher education, and enhancing the family’s income – often do more to reduce abuse than years of therapy.

    The really intractable abuser is the sadist, who derives pleasure from other people’s fears, consternation, pain, and suffering. Barring the administering of numbing medication, little can be done to counter this powerful inducement to hurt others deliberately. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies and Transactional Treatment Modalities have been known to help. Even sadists are amenable to reason and self-interest. The pending risk of punishment and the fruits of well-observed contracts with evaluators, therapists, and family – sometimes do the job.

    More about what the victims can do to cope with their abusers – herehere, and here.

    But how to get your abuser to see reason in the first place? How to obtain for him the help he needs – without involving law enforcement agencies, the authorities, or the courts? Any attempt to broach the subject of the abuser’s mental problems frequently ends in harangues and worse. It is positively dangerous to mention the abuser’s shortcomings or imperfections to his face.

    REFORMING THE ABUSER

    How to get your abuser to see reason in the first place? How to obtain for him the help he needs – without involving law enforcement agencies, the authorities, or the courts? Any attempt to broach the subject of the abuser’s mental problems frequently ends in harangues and worse. It is positively dangerous to mention the abuser’s shortcomings or imperfections to his face.

    Hence the complexity of trying to prevent or control the abuser’s behavior. His family, friends, peers, co-workers, and neighbors – normally, levers 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. He regards himself as normal, definitely not in need of therapeutic intervention.

    Thus, the complaints of a victim are likely to be met with hostility and suspicion by the offender’s parents or siblings, for instance. Instead of reining in the abusive conduct, they are likely to pathologize the victim (“she is a nutcase”) or label her (“she is a whore or a bitch”).

    Nor is the victim of abuse likely to fare better in the hands of law enforcement agencies, the courts, counselors, therapists, and guardians ad litem. The propensity of these institutions is to assume that the abused has a hidden agenda – to abscond with her husband’s property, or to deny him custody or visitation rights.

    Read more about it here.

    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. No outside intervention is forthcoming or effective. Indeed, the delineation of boundaries and reaching an agreement on co-existence are the first important steps towards minimizing abuse in your relationships. Such a compact must include a provision obliging your abuser to seek professional help for his mental health problems.

    Personal boundaries are not negotiable, neither can they be determined from the outside. Your abusive bully should have no say in setting them or in upholding them. Only you decide when they have been breached, what constitutes a transgression, what is excusable and what not.

    The abuser is constantly on the lookout for a weakening of your resolve. He is repeatedly testing your mettle and resilience. He pounces on any and every vulnerability, uncertainty, or hesitation. 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 longer terms?
    • 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?
    • Verbalize your emotions, needs, preferences, and choices without aggression but with assertiveness and determination.

    Some abusers – the narcissistic ones – are detached from reality. They avoid it actively and live in fantasies of everlasting and unconditional love. They refuse to accept the inevitable consequences of their own actions. It is up to you to correct these cognitive and emotional deficits. You may encounter opposition – even violence – 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 of 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 possessed of alloplastic defenses. More simply put, they feel superior, entitled, above any law and agreement, and innocent. Others – usually the victims – are to blame for the abusive conduct ( “see what you made me do?”).

    How can one negotiate with such a person without incurring 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?

    CONTRACTING WITH AN ABUSER

    How can one negotiate with an abuser without incurring 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?

    It is useless to confront the abuser head on and to engage in power politics (“You are guilty or wrong, I am the victim and right”, “My will should prevail”, and so on). It is decidedly counterproductive and unhelpful and could lead to rage attacks and a deepening of the abuser’s persecutory delusions, bred by his humiliation in the therapeutic setting. Better, at first, to co-opt the abuser’s own prejudices and pathology by catering to his infantile emotional needs and complying with his wishes, complex rules and arbitrary rituals.

    Here a practical guide how to drag your abuser into treatment and into a contract of mutual respect and cessation of hostilities (assuming, of course, you want to preserve the relationship):

    1. Tell him that you love him and emphasize the exclusivity of your relationship by refraining, initially and during the therapy, from anxiety-provoking acts. Limiting your autonomy is a temporary sacrifice – under no circumstances make it a permanent feature of your relationship. Demonstrate to the abuser that his distrust of you is misplaced and undeserved and that one of the aims of the treatment regimen is to teach him to control and reduce his pathological and delusional jealousy.

    2. Define areas of your common life that the abuser can safely – and without infringing on your independence – utterly control. Abusers need to feel that they are in charge, sole decision-makers and arbiters.

    3. Ask him to define – preferably in writing – what he expects from you and where he thinks that you, or your “performance” are “deficient”.

    Try to accommodate his reasonable demands and ignore the rest. Do not, at this stage, present a counter-list. This will come later. To move him to attend couple or marital therapy, tell him that you need his help to restore your relationship to its former warmth and intimacy. Admit to faults of your own which you want “fixed” so as to be a better mate. Appeal to his narcissism and self-image as the omnipotent and omniscient macho. Humour him for a while.

    4. Involve your abuser, as much as you can, in your life. Take him to meet your family, ask him to join in with your friends, to visit your workplace, to help maintain your car (a symbol of your independence), to advise you on money matters and career steps. Do not hand over control to him over any of these areas – but get him to feel a part of your life and try to mitigate his envy and insecurity.

    5. Encourage him to assume responsibility for the positive things in his life and in your relationship.Compliment the beneficial outcomes of his skills, talents, hard work, and attitude. Gradually, he will let go of his alloplastic defences – his tendency to blame every mistake of his, every failure, or mishap on others, or on the world at large.

    6. Make him own up to his feelings by identifying them. Most abusers are divorced from their emotions.They seek to explain their inner turmoil by resorting to outside agents (“Look what you made me do” or “They provoked me”). They are unaware of their anger, envy, or aggression. Mirror your abuser gently and unobtrusively (“How do you feel about it?”, “When I am angry I act the same”, “Would you be happier if I didn’t do it?”).

    7. Avoid the appearance – or the practice – of manipulating your abuser (except if you want to get rid of him). Abusers are very sensitive to control issues and they feel threatened, exploited, and ill-treated when manipulated. They invariably react with violence.

    8. Treat your abuser as you would like him to behave towards you. Personal example is a powerful proselytizer. Don’t act out of fear or subservience. Be sincere. Act out of love and conviction. Finally, your conduct is bound to infiltrate the abuser’s defences.

    9. React forcefully, unambiguously, and instantly to any use of force. Make clear where the boundary of civilized exchange lies. Punish him severely and mercilessly if he crosses it. Make known well in advance the rules of your relationship – rewards and sanctions included. Discipline him for verbal and emotional abuse as well – though less strenuously. Create a hierarchy of transgressions and a penal code to go with it.

    Read these for further guidance:

    Coping with Your Abuser

    The Guilt of the Abused

    10. As the therapy continues and progress is evident, try to fray the rigid edges of your sex roles. Most abusers are very much into “me Tarzan, you Jane” gender-casting. Show him his feminine sides and make him proud of them. Gradually introduce him to your masculine traits, or skills – and make him proud of you.

    This, essentially, is what good therapists do in trying to roll back or limit the offender’s pathology.

    From “Treatment Modalities and Therapies”:

    “Most therapists try to co-opt the narcissistic abuser’s inflated ego (False Self) and defenses. They compliment the narcissist, challenging him to prove his omnipotence by overcoming his disorder. They appeal to his quest for perfection, brilliance, and eternal love – and his paranoid tendencies – in an attempt to get rid of counterproductive, self-defeating, and dysfunctional behavior patterns.

    By stroking the narcissist’s grandiosity, they hope to modify or counter cognitive deficits, thinking errors, and the narcissist’s victim-stance. They contract with the narcissist to alter his conduct. Some even go to the extent of medicalizing the disorder, attributing it to a hereditary or biochemical origin and thus ‘absolving’ the narcissist from guilt and responsibility and freeing his mental resources to concentrate on the therapy.”

    But is therapy worth the effort? What is the success rate of various treatment modalities in modifying the abuser’s conduct, let alone in “healing” or “curing” him?

    ABUSER GOES TO THERAPY

    Your abuser “agrees” (is forced) to attend therapy. But are the sessions worth the effort? What is the success rate of various treatment modalities in modifying the abuser’s conduct, let alone in “healing” or “curing” him? Is psychotherapy the panacea it is often made out to be – or a nostrum, as many victims of abuse claim? And why is it applied only after the fact – and not as a preventive measure?

    Courts regularly send offenders to be treated as a condition for reducing their sentences. Yet, most of the programs are laughably short (between 6 to 32 weeks) and involve group therapy – which is useless with abusers who are also narcissists or psychopaths.

    Rather than cure him, such workshops seek to “educate” and “reform” the culprit, often by introducing him to the victim’s point of view. This is supposed to inculcate in the offender empathy and to rid the habitual batterer of the residues of patriarchal prejudice and control freakery. Abusers are encouraged to examine gender roles in modern society and, by implication, ask themselves if battering one’s spouse was proof of virility.

    Anger management – made famous by the eponymous film – is a relatively late newcomer, though currently it is all the rage. Offenders are taught to identify the hidden – and real – causes of their rage and learn techniques to control or channel it.

    But batterers are not a homogeneous lot. Sending all of them to the same type of treatment is bound to end up in recidivism. Neither are judges qualified to decide whether a specific abuser requires treatment or can benefit from it. The variety is so great that it is safe to say that – although they share the same misbehavior patterns – no two abusers are alike.

    In their article, “A Comparison of Impulsive and Instrumental Subgroups of Batterers”, Roger Tweed and Donald Dutton of the Department of Psychology of the University of British Columbia, rely on the current typology of offenders which classifies them as:

    “… Overcontrolled-dependent, impulsive-borderline (also called ‘dysphoric-borderline’ – SV) and instrumental-antisocial. The overcontrolled-dependent differ qualitatively from the other two expressive or ‘undercontrolled’ groups in that their violence is, by definition, less frequent and they exhibit less florid psychopathology. (Holtzworth-Munroe & Stuart 1994, Hamberger & hastings 1985) … Hamberger & Hastings (1985,1986) factor analyzed the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory for batterers, yielding three factors which they labeled ‘schizoid/borderline’ (cf. Impulsive), ‘narcissistic/antisocial’ (instrumental),and ‘passive/dependent/compulsive’ (overcontrolled)… Men, high only on the impulsive factor, were described as withdrawn, asocial, moody, hypersensitive to perceived slights, volatile and over-reactive, calm and controlled one moment and extremely angry and oppressive the next – a type of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality. The associated DSM-III diagnosis was Borderline Personality. Men high only on the instrumental factor exhibited narcissistic entitlement and psychopathic manipulativeness. Hesitation by others to respond to their demands produced threats and aggression …”

    But there are other, equally enlightening, typologies (mentioned by the authors). Saunders suggested 13 dimensions of abuser psychology, clustered in three behavior patterns: Family Only, Emotionally Volatile, and Generally Violent. Consider these disparities: one quarter of his sample – those victimized in childhood – showed no signs of depression or anger! At the other end of the spectrum, one of every six abusers was violent only in the confines of the family and suffered from high levels of dysphoria and rage.

    Impulsive batterers abuse only their family members. Their favorite forms of mistreatment are sexual and psychological. They are dysphoric, emotionally labile, asocial, and, usually, substance abusers. Instrumental abusers are violent both at home and outside it – but only when they want to get something done. They are goal-orientated, avoid intimacy, and treat people as objects or instruments of gratification.

    Still, as Dutton pointed out in a series of acclaimed studies, the “abusive personality” is characterized by a low level of organization, abandonment anxiety (even when it is denied by the abuser), elevated levels of anger, and trauma symptoms.

    It is clear that each abuser requires individual psychotherapy, tailored to his specific needs – on top of the usual group therapy and marital (or couple) therapy. At the very least, every offender should be required to undergo these tests to provide a complete picture of his personality and the roots of his unbridled aggression:

    1. The Relationship Styles Questionnaire (RSQ)
    2. Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III)
    3. Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS)
    4. Multidimensional Anger Inventory (MAI)
    5. Borderline Personality Organization Scale (BPO)
    6. The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)

    It is clear that each abuser requires individual psychotherapy, tailored to his specific needs – on top of the usual group therapy and marital (or couple) therapy. At the very least, every offender should be required to undergo the following tests to provide a complete picture of his personality and the roots of his unbridled aggression.

    In the court-mandated evaluation phase, you should insist to first find out whether your abuser suffers from mental health disorders. These may well be the – sometimes treatable – roots of his abusive conduct. A qualified mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers from a personality disorder only following lengthy tests and personal interviews.

    The predictive power of these tests – often based on literature and scales of traits constructed by scholars – has been hotly disputed. Still, they are far preferable to subjective impressions of the diagnostician which are often amenable to manipulation.

    By far the most authoritative and widely used instrument is the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III) – a potent test for personality disorders and attendant anxiety and depression. The third edition was formulated in 1996 by Theodore Millon and Roger Davis and includes 175 items. As many abusers show narcissistic traits, it is advisable to universally administer to them the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) as well.

    Many abusers have a borderline (primitive) organization of personality. It is, therefore, diagnostically helpful to subject them to the Borderline Personality Organization Scale (BPO). Designed in 1985, it sorts the responses of respondents into 30 relevant scales. It indicates the existence of identity diffusion, primitive defenses, and deficient reality testing.

    To these one may add the Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire-IV, the Coolidge Axis II Inventory, the Personality Assessment Inventory (1992), the excellent, literature-based, Dimensional assessment of Personality Pathology, and the comprehensive Schedule of Nonadaptive and Adaptive Personality and Wisconsin Personality Disorders Inventory.

    Having established whether your abuser suffers from a personality impairment, it is mandatory to understand the way he functions in relationships, copes with intimacy, and responds with abuse to triggers.

    The Relationship Styles Questionnaire (RSQ) (1994) contains 30 self-reported items and identifies distinct attachment styles (secure, fearful, preoccupied, and dismissing). The Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) (1979) is a standardized scale of the frequency and intensity of conflict resolution tactics – especially abusive stratagems – used by members of a dyad (couple).

    The Multidimensional Anger Inventory (MAI) (1986) assesses the frequency of angry responses, their duration, magnitude, mode of expression, hostile outlook, and anger-provoking triggers.

    Yet, even a complete battery of tests, administered by experienced professionals sometimes fails to identify abusers and their personality disorders. Offenders are uncanny in their ability to deceive their evaluators.

    Even a complete battery of tests, administered by experienced professionals sometimes fails to identify abusers and their personality disorders. Offenders are uncanny in their ability to deceive their evaluators. They often succeed in transforming therapists and diagnosticians into four types of collaborators: the adulators, the blissfully ignorant, the self-deceiving, and those deceived by the batterer’s conduct or statements.

    Abusers co-opt mental health and social welfare workers and compromise them – even when the diagnosis is unequivocal – by flattering them, by emphasizing common traits or a common background, by forming a joint front against the victim of abuse (“shared psychosis”), or by emotionally bribing them. Abusers are master manipulators and exploit the vulnerabilities, traumas, prejudices, and fears of the practitioners to “convert” them to the offender’s cause.

    I. The Adulators

    The adulators are fully aware of the nefarious and damaging aspects of the abuser’s behavior but believe that they are more than balanced by his positive traits. In a curious inversion of judgment, they cast the perpetrator as the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by the abused or attribute the offender’s predicament to bigotry.

    They mobilize to help the abuser, promote his agenda, shield him from harm, connect him with like-minded people, do his chores for him and, in general, create the conditions and the environment for his ultimate success.

    II. The Ignorant

    As I wrote in “The Guilt of the Abused”, it is telling that precious few 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-chapter in a larger section dedicated to paraphilias or 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. As a result of this deficient education and lacking awareness, most law enforcement officers, judges, counselors, guardians, and mediators are worryingly ignorant about the phenomenon.

    Only 4% 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 50%. One in three murdered women was done in by her spouse, current or former.

    The blissfully ignorant mental health professionals are simply unaware of the “bad sides” of the abuser – and make sure they remain oblivious to them. They look the other way, or pretend that the abuser’s behavior is normative, or turn a blind eye to his egregious conduct.

    Even therapists sometimes deny a painful reality that contravenes their bias. Some of them maintain a generally rosy outlook premised on the alleged inbred benevolence of Mankind. Others simply cannot tolerate dissonance and discord. They prefer to live in a fantastic world where everything is harmonious and smooth and evil is banished. They react with discomfort or even rage to any information to the contrary and block it out instantly.

    Once they form an opinion that the accusations against the abusers are overblown, malicious, and false – it becomes immutable. “I have made up my mind – they seem to be broadcasting – “Now don’t confuse me with the facts.”

    III. The Self-Deceivers

    The self-deceivers are fully aware of the abuser’s transgressions and malice, his indifference, exploitativeness, lack of empathy, and rampant grandiosity – but they prefer to displace the causes, or the effects of such misconduct. They attribute it to externalities (“a rough patch”), or judge it to be temporary. They even go as far as accusing the victim for the offender’s lapses, or for defending herself (“she provoked him”).

    In a feat of cognitive dissonance, they deny any connection between the acts of the abuser and their consequences (“his wife abandoned him because she was promiscuous, not because of anything he did to her”). They are swayed by the batterer’s undeniable charm, intelligence, or attractiveness. But the abuser needs not invest resources in converting them to his cause – he does not deceive them. They are self-propelled.

    IV. The Deceived

    The deceived are deliberately taken for a premeditated ride by the abuser. He feeds them false information, manipulates their judgment, proffers plausible scenarios to account for his indiscretions, soils the opposition, charms them, appeals to their reason, or to their emotions, and promises the moon.

    Again, the abuser’s incontrovertible powers of persuasion and his impressive personality play a part in this predatory ritual. The deceived are especially hard to deprogram. They are often themselves encumbered with the abuser’s traits and find it impossible to admit a mistake, or to atone.

    From “The Guilt of the Abused”:

    Therapists, marriage counselors, mediators, court-appointed guardians, police officers, and judges are human. Some of them are social reactionaries, others are abusers, 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 by pathologizing the situation or the victim – rather than the perpetrator.

    A man’s home is still his castle and the authorities are loath to intrude.

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

    Therapists are not immune to these ubiquitous and age-old influences and biases.


    They are amenable to the considerable charm, persuasiveness, and manipulativeness of the abuser and to his impressive thespian skills. The abuser offers a plausible rendition of the events and interprets them to 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 a nervous breakdown: harassed, unkempt, irritable, impatient, abrasive, and hysterical.

    Confronted with this contrast between a polished, self-controlled, and suave abuser and his harried casualties – it is easy to reach the conclusion that the real victim is the abuser, or that both parties abuse each other equally. The prey’s acts of self-defense, assertiveness, or insistence on her rights are interpreted as aggression, lability, or a mental health problem.

    The profession’s propensity to pathologize extends 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. They are typically diagnosed as suffering from a personality disorder, an inordinately low self-esteem, or codependence 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 Batterer in Visitation and Custody Disputes”, Lundy Bancroft sums up the asymmetry in favor of the offender:

    “Batterers …  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 … and 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 …  that 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 the relationship.”

    There is little the victim can do to “educate” the therapist or “prove” to him who is the guilty party. Mental health professionals are as ego-centered as the next person. They are emotionally invested in opinions they form or in their interpretation of the abusive relationship. They perceive every disagreement as a challenge to their authority and are likely 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. Woe betides the party that dares object or turn these “recommendations” down. Thus, an abuse victim who declines to have any further contact with her batterer – is bound to be chastised by her therapist for obstinately refusing to constructively communicate with her violent spouse.

    Better to play ball and adopt the sleek 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” (behaviors during the first few sessions). Learn these – and use them to your advantage. It is your only chance.

    The Risks of Self-diagnosis and Labeling

    The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a disease. It is defined only by and in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). All other “definitions” and compilations of “criteria” are irrelevant and very misleading.

    People go around putting together lists of traits and behaviors (usually based on their experience with one person who was never officially diagnosed as a narcissist) and deciding that these lists constitute the essence or definition of narcissism.

    People are erroneously using the term “narcissist” to describe every type of abuser or obnoxious and uncouth person. That is wrong. Not all abusers are narcissists.

    Only a qualified mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and this, following lengthy tests and personal interviews.

    It is true that narcissists can mislead even the most experienced professional (see the article above). But this does not mean that laymen possess the ability to diagnose mental health disorders. The same signs and symptoms apply to many psychological problems and differentiating between them takes years of learning and training.

    In the process of mediation, marital therapy, or evaluation, counselors frequently propose various techniques to ameliorate the abuse or bring it under control. Woe betides the party that dares object or turn these “recommendations” down. Thus, an abuse victim who declines to have any further contact with her batterer – is bound to be chastised by her therapist for obstinately refusing to constructively communicate with her violent spouse.

    Better to play ball and adopt the sleek 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” (behaviors during the first few sessions). Learn these – and use them to your advantage. It is your only chance.

    I described in “The Guilt of the Abused – Pathologizing the Victim” how the system is biased and titled against the victim.

    Regrettably, mental health professionals and practitioners – marital and couple therapists, counselors – are conditioned, by years of indoctrinating and dogmatic education, to respond favorably to specific verbal cues.

    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).

    This shifts the responsibility from the offender to his prey. The abused must have done something to bring about their own maltreatment  – or simply were 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.

    Refusal to do so – in other words, refusal to risk further abuse – is harshly judged by the therapist. The victim is labeled uncooperative, resistant, or even abusive!

    The key is, therefore, feigned acquiescence and collaboration with the therapist’s scheme, acceptance of his/her interpretation of the events, and the use of key phrases such as: “I wish to communicate/work with (the abuser)”, “trauma”, “relationship”, “healing process”, “inner child”, “the good of the children”, “the importance of fathering”, “significant other” and other psycho-babble. Learn the jargon, use it intelligently 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/her.

    I make the therapist sound like yet another potential abuser – because in many cases, he/she becomes one as they inadvertently collude with the abuser, invalidate the abuse experiences, and pathologize the victim.

    Phrases to Use

    • “For the children’s sake …”
    • “I want to maintain constructive communications with my husband/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/my life”
    • “Healing process”

    Things to Do

    • Attend every session 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 the counselor or the evaluator or criticize them openly. If you have to disagree with him or her – do so elliptically and dispassionately.
    • Agree 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 or threaten anyone, not even indirectly! Restrain your hostility. Talk calmly and articulately. Count to ten or take a break, if you must.
    • Repeatedly emphasize that the welfare and well-being of your children is uppermost in your mind – over and above any other (selfish) desire or consideration.

    Maintain Your Boundaries

    • Be sure to maintain as much contact with your abuser as the courts, counselors, mediators, guardians, or law enforcement officials mandate.
    • Do NOT contravene the decisions of the system. Work from the inside to change judgments, evaluations, or rulings – but NEVER rebel against them or ignore them. You will only turn the system against you and your interests.
    • But with the exception of the minimum mandated by the courts – decline any and all gratuitous contact with the narcissist.
    • Do not respond to his pleading, romantic, nostalgic, flattering, or threatening e-mail messages.
    • Return all gifts he sends you.
    • Refuse him entry to your premises. Do not even respond to the intercom.
    • Do not talk to him on the phone. Hang up the minute you hear his voice while making clear to him, in a single, polite but firm, sentence, that you are determined not to talk to him.
    • Do not answer his letters.
    • Do not visit him on special occasions, or in emergencies.
    • Do not respond to questions, requests, or pleas forwarded to you through third parties.
    • Disconnect from third parties whom you know are spying on you at his behest.
    • Do not discuss him with your children.
    • Do not gossip about him.
    • Do not ask him for anything, even if you are in dire need.
    • When you are forced to meet him, do not discuss your personal affairs – or his.
    • Relegate any inevitable contact with him – when and where possible – to professionals: your lawyer, or your accountant.

    This – working with professionals to extricate yourself and your loved ones from the quagmire of an abusive relationship.

    Selecting the right professional is crucial. In the hands of an incompetent service provider, you may end up feeling abused all over again.

    Go through the following check list before you settle on a divorce attorney, a financial consultant, a tax planner, a security adviser, or an accountant. Don’t be ashamed to demand full disclosure – you have a right to do so. If you are met with impatience, arrogance, or a patronizing attitude – leave. This is not the right choice.

    Make additional enquiries. Join online support groups and ask the members for recommendations. Visit directories on the Web – they are usually arranged by city, state, region, and country. Compare notes with others who have had similar experiences. Ask friends, neighbors, and family members to do the same. Scan the media for mentions of experts and mavens. Seek advice and referrals – the more the better.

    Suggested Check List

    Is the professional certified in your state/country? Can he himself fully represent you? Will you be served by the expert himself – or by his staff? Don’t end up being represented by someone you never even met! Make the professional’s personal services an explicit condition in any written and verbal arrangement you make. Selecting the right professional is crucial. In the hands of an incompetent service provider, you may end up feeling abused all over again.

    Go through the following check list before you settle on a divorce attorney, a financial consultant, a tax planner, a security adviser, or an accountant. Don’t be ashamed to demand full disclosure – you have a right to do so. If you are met with impatience, arrogance, or a patronizing attitude – leave. This is not the right choice.

    Make additional inquiries. Join online support groups and ask the members for recommendations. Visit directories on the Web – they are usually arranged by city, state, region, and country. Compare notes with others who have had similar experiences. Ask friends, neighbors, and family members to do the same. Scan the media for mentions of experts and mavens. Seek advice and referrals – the more the better.

    Suggested Check List

    Is the professional certified in your state/country? Can he himself fully represent you?

    Will you be served by the expert himself – or by his staff? Don’t end up being represented by someone you never even met! Make the professional’s personal services an explicit condition in any written and verbal arrangement you make.

    Obtain a complete financial offer, all fees and charges included, before you hire the services. Make sure you are aware of the full monetary implications of your decisions. Finding yourself financially stranded midway through is bad policy. If you can afford it – don’t compromise and go for the best. But if you don’t have the pecuniary means – don’t overshoot.

    What is the professional’s track record? Does he have a long, varied, and successful experience in cases similar to yours? Don’t hesitate to ask him or her for recommendations and referrals, testimonials and media clips.


    What are the likely outcomes of the decisions you make, based on the specialist’s recommendations? A true pro will never provide you with an iron-clad guarantee but neither will he dodge the question. Your expert should be able to give you a reasonably safe assessment of risks, rewards, potential and probable outcomes, and future developments.

    Always inquire about different courses of action and substitute measures. Ask your professional why he prefers one method or approach to another and what is wrong with the alternatives. Don’t accept his authority as the sole arbiter. Don’t hesitate to argue with him and seek a second opinion if you are still not convinced.

    Make the terms of your agreement crystal-clear, get it in writing, and in advance. Don’t leave anything to chance or verbal understanding. Cover all grounds: the scope of activities, the fees, the termination clauses. Hiring a consultant is like getting married – you should also contemplate a possible divorce.

    Relegate any inevitable contact with your abusive ex – when and where possible – to professionals: your lawyer, or your accountant. Work with professionals to extricate yourself and your loved ones from the quagmire of an abusive relationship.

    Having chosen your team of consultants and experts – and having hired their services – relegate any inevitable contact with your abusive ex – when and where possible – to professionals: your lawyer, or your accountant. Work with these qualified third parties to extricate yourself and your loved ones from the quagmire of an abusive relationship.

    Be sure to maintain as much contact with your abuser as the courts, counselors, mediators, guardians, or law enforcement officials mandate. Do NOT contravene the decisions of the system. Work from the inside to change judgments, evaluations, or rulings – but NEVER rebel against them or ignore them. You will only turn the system against you and your interests. But with the exception of the minimum mandated by the courts – decline any and all GRATUITOUS contact with the narcissist.

    Remember that many interactions are initiated by your abusive ex in order to trap or intimidate you. Keep referring him to your lawyer regarding legal issues, to your accountant or financial advisor concerning money matters, and to therapists, psychologists, and counselors with regards to everything else (yourself and your common children).

    Abusers react badly to such treatment. Yours will try to manipulate you into unintended contact. Do not respond to his pleading, romantic, nostalgic, flattering, or threatening e-mail and snail mail messages. Keep records of such correspondence and make it immediately available to the courts, law enforcement agencies, court-mandated evaluators, guardians ad litem, therapists, marital counselors, child psychologist – and to your good friends. Keep him away by obtaining restraining orders and injunctions aplenty.

    Abusers crave secrecy. Expose their misdeeds. Deter abuse by being open about your predicament. Share with like-minded others. It will ease your burden and keep him at bay, at least for awhile.

    Your abusive ex-partner will try to dazzle you with attention. Return all gifts he sends you – unopened and unacknowledged. Keep your communications with him to the bare, cold, minimum. Do not be impolite or abusive – it is precisely how he wants you to behave. It may be used against you in a court of law. Keep your cool but be firm.

    Do not let him re-enter your life surreptitiously. Stealth andambient abuse are powerful tools. Refuse him entry to your premises. Do not even respond to the intercom. Do not talk to him on the phone. Hang up the minute you hear his voice while making clear to him, in a single, polite but unambiguous, sentence, that you are determined not to talk to him, that it’s over for good.

    Do not succumb to your weakness. It is tough living alone. You are bound to miss him horribly at times, selectively recalling only the good moments and the affection in your doomed relationship. Do not “dip” into the poisonous offerings of your abuser. Do not relapse. Be strong. Fill your life with new hobbies, new interests, new friends, new loves, and a new purpose.


    Do not visit your abuser on “special occasions”, or in emergencies. Do not let him convince you to celebrate an anniversary, a birthday, a successful business transaction, a personal achievement or triumph. Do not let him turn your own memories against you. Do not visit him in the hospital, in jail, a rehab center, or join him in a memorial service.

    Do not ask him for anything, even if you are in dire need. When you are forced to meet him, do not discuss your personal affairs – or his. Your abuser’s friendship is fake, his life with you a confabulation, his intentions dishonest and dishonorable. He is the enemy.

    Abuse by proxy continues long after the relationship is officially over (at least as far as you are concerned). Do not respond to questions, requests, or pleas forwarded to you through third parties. Disconnect from third parties whom you know are spying on you at his behest. Do not discuss him with your children. Do not gossip about him.

    The majority of abusers get the message, however belatedly and reluctantly. Others – more vindictive and obsessed – continue to haunt their quarry for years to come. These are the stalkers.


    Source:
    This article appears in my book, “Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited”
    Click HERE to buy the print edition from Barnes and Noble orHERE to buy it from Amazon or HERE to buy it from The Book Source
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    Collin County, Texas, cps, custody, death, families, family, law, murder, suicide
    Mother Kills Child Before Turning Gun on Herself

    Police say apparent murder-suicide occurred after judge awarded custody to father

    By Frank Heinz
    |  Saturday, Oct 22, 2011  |  Updated 6:32 PM CDT

    Ellen Goldberg, NBC 5 News

    Police say the apparent murder-suicide occurred shortly after a judge awarded custody to the boy’s father.

    A woman shot and killed her 7-year-old son before turning the gun on herself late Friday morning in Sachse, police said.

    Officers forced their way into the home after hearing gunshots and found 43-year-old Karen Hayslett-McCall and 7-year-old Eryk Hayslett-McCall in an upstairs bedroom at about 10:30 a.m.

    Sachse police were at the home in the 7100 block of Longmeadow Drive as a precaution when her estranged husband, Rodney McCall, arrived to pick up his son.

    McCall had received sole custody of the child in a court hearing at 10 a.m.

    “The father knocked on the front door,” Sachse police Chief Dennis Veach said. “We were simply standing by and at both front and rear of the house when we heard three shots from within the house.”

    Veach said police had been to the home on several locations but there were not allegations of serious violence.

    Police said Hayslett-McCall and her husband were in the midst of bitter divorce proceedings. Veach said police did not know why the father had been given sole custody of their son.

    Hayslett-McCall had accused her husband of molesting their son last fall.  A grand jury later found no evidence of a crime, and McCall was cleared.

    But McCall had lost his job as a high school teacher.

    McCall’s attorney told the Wylie school board in November that the case was “an allegation brought by a woman who is about to lose custody of her children,” the Wylie News reported.

    He also told the board that Hayslett-McCall, a former police officer who has a doctorate in criminal justice and a master’s degree in psychology, knew how to manipulate the justice system, the newspaper reported.

    The couple had been battling over custody of Eryk for more than a year.

    They filed for divorce in Collin County in March 2010, and temporary custody orders were in place in April 2010. By November, an attorney was appointed for the child.

    The judge ordered psychological evaluations in January 2011. Jurors were sworn in on Monday for opening statements, and McCall won custody of his son Friday.

    Lt. Marty Cassidy said the officers were visibly shaken but did the best they could in a really bad situation.

    “It’s a terribly, terribly sad, tragic event, you know, when one person makes a life decision for another who doesn’t have a vote in that decision,” Veach said.

    Police said although other family members were at the residence, they were outside greeting police when the shooting happened.

    Officials will work with the Collin County medical examiner to confirm the cause of death, but it appears the woman shot the child and then herself.

    Hayslett-McCall was a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. UT Dallas released the following statement:

    “The UT Dallas community is deeply saddened to learn of this tragic news. Our thoughts and concerns are with the family. Karen Hayslett-McCall left the university faculty in June 2011 and has had no official position with the university since then.”

    NBC 5’s Kevin Cokely and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.

    Tuesday’s thoughts:

    Was this custody battle worth it?

    Collin County, Texas, cps, custody, death, families, family, law, murder, suicide
    Mother Kills Child Before Turning Gun on Herself

    Police say apparent murder-suicide occurred after judge awarded custody to father

    By Frank Heinz
    |  Saturday, Oct 22, 2011  |  Updated 6:32 PM CDT

    Ellen Goldberg, NBC 5 News

    Police say the apparent murder-suicide occurred shortly after a judge awarded custody to the boy’s father.

    A woman shot and killed her 7-year-old son before turning the gun on herself late Friday morning in Sachse, police said.

    Officers forced their way into the home after hearing gunshots and found 43-year-old Karen Hayslett-McCall and 7-year-old Eryk Hayslett-McCall in an upstairs bedroom at about 10:30 a.m.

    Sachse police were at the home in the 7100 block of Longmeadow Drive as a precaution when her estranged husband, Rodney McCall, arrived to pick up his son.

    McCall had received sole custody of the child in a court hearing at 10 a.m.

    “The father knocked on the front door,” Sachse police Chief Dennis Veach said. “We were simply standing by and at both front and rear of the house when we heard three shots from within the house.”

    Veach said police had been to the home on several locations but there were not allegations of serious violence.

    Police said Hayslett-McCall and her husband were in the midst of bitter divorce proceedings. Veach said police did not know why the father had been given sole custody of their son.

    Hayslett-McCall had accused her husband of molesting their son last fall.  A grand jury later found no evidence of a crime, and McCall was cleared.

    But McCall had lost his job as a high school teacher.

    McCall’s attorney told the Wylie school board in November that the case was “an allegation brought by a woman who is about to lose custody of her children,” the Wylie News reported.

    He also told the board that Hayslett-McCall, a former police officer who has a doctorate in criminal justice and a master’s degree in psychology, knew how to manipulate the justice system, the newspaper reported.

    The couple had been battling over custody of Eryk for more than a year.

    They filed for divorce in Collin County in March 2010, and temporary custody orders were in place in April 2010. By November, an attorney was appointed for the child.

    The judge ordered psychological evaluations in January 2011. Jurors were sworn in on Monday for opening statements, and McCall won custody of his son Friday.

    Lt. Marty Cassidy said the officers were visibly shaken but did the best they could in a really bad situation.

    “It’s a terribly, terribly sad, tragic event, you know, when one person makes a life decision for another who doesn’t have a vote in that decision,” Veach said.

    Police said although other family members were at the residence, they were outside greeting police when the shooting happened.

    Officials will work with the Collin County medical examiner to confirm the cause of death, but it appears the woman shot the child and then herself.

    Hayslett-McCall was a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. UT Dallas released the following statement:

    “The UT Dallas community is deeply saddened to learn of this tragic news. Our thoughts and concerns are with the family. Karen Hayslett-McCall left the university faculty in June 2011 and has had no official position with the university since then.”

    NBC 5’s Kevin Cokely and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.

    Tuesday’s thoughts:

    Was this custody battle worth it?

    adoption, child adoption, cps, foster child, General, health, love, mental illness
    Understanding Ambiguous Loss

    For nearly seven years now, I have suffered the grief from losing my son in 2004. I have been paralyzed, lost, and trapped in the pain since 2004.

    I have grieved, or so I thought. Maybe I didn’t grieve. I really don’t know for sure, since this sort of thing was not part of my plan as a parent.

    How does a parent resolve the unfair loss of a child into the system, that occurred because of a custody battle gone wrong, a spiteful spouse, and system failure?  That resolve does not exist. When the wrongs  are never righted there is no resolution, only the what ifs that run rampant. The frustration and anger is never-ending.

     I never knew it was something with a label, “ambiguous loss”.

     Wow.  There is a term for what I feel.  There is a label that is out there and recognized, as something real, and is far greater than I, alone, can overcome.  I can only feel it every day, every week, month, and year, since the loss of my son, as it eats away the inside of my spirit.

    People have said to me, “move on” and “get over it” and “yeah yeah its been years, aren’t you past that yet?” or “at least he’s alive out there, he could be dead, ya know…” or one of a million other ‘words of advice’ in their futile attempts to fix me.   Yet I remain stuck, lost, and sad.  

    On top of the myriad of emotions I feel as the mother, I often fear that if it feels this intense for *me* at *my age* with *my understanding of life* as an adult –  I CANNOT imagine how it felt to my eight year old son to go through what we went through!!

    I don’t want to imagine how it felt for him, but as his mother, I have no choice but to wonder – which makes the impact of my own emotions that much greater.  It’s a horrible cycle that never ends.   There is no resolution, there is no finalizing the pain.

     So…Ambiguous Loss is what its called.  

    Lets learn a little about it and how it affects the children in the child welfare system. As if we can even begin to understand how deeply they feel it as children… as if..


    Understanding Ambiguous Loss

    source: http://www.mnadopt.org

    Ambiguous loss is a term that is used to describe the grief or distress associated with a loss (usually a person or relationship) in which there is confusion or uncertainty about that person or relationship.

    There are two types of ambiguous loss:

    1) When the person is physically present but psychologically unavailable. An example of this might be when a child’s parent has a mental health diagnosis or chemical use issues which make them emotionally unavailable to meet the needs of the child, even if that parent is physically present;

    2) When the person is physically absent but psychologically present. Examples of this would be when a child does not live with a parent due to divorce, incarceration, foster care or adoption;

    Ambiguous loss may overlap with trauma and attachment problems and symptoms may be similar to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

    A person experiencing ambiguous loss may:

    • Have difficulty with transitions or changes;

    • Have difficulty making decisions; feeling “paralyzed” or overwhelmed when having to make choices about one’s life;

    • Have decreased ability to cope with routine childhood or adolescent losses–not being able to “move on” from a disappointment or loss or feeling “stuck”;

    • Exhibit learned helplessness or hopelessness;

    • Have depression and/or anxiety;

    • Have feelings of guilt.

    Ambiguous loss affects adopted children who may think about their birth family, but birth family members and adoptive parents might also experience ambiguous loss. Both birth family members and adopted children may wonder about each other, or may mourn or fantasize about what it would have been like to stay together. Adoptive parents, especially if they adopt after struggles with infertility, may experience ambiguous loss over pregnancies that ended in miscarriages or the loss of the dream of having children biologically.

    Pauline Boss, author of Ambiguous Loss: Coming to Terms with Unresolved Grief, writes,

    “Although the birth mother is more conscious of the actual separation than is the baby given up for adoption… the birth mother is thought about often and kept psychologically present in the minds of both the adoptive mother and the adopted child.”

    Consider how much more this loss might be felt by youth who were not separated at birth but lived with the mother or father for months or years before the separation occurred; or the effect of loss on children who experience multiple placements and caregivers.

    Each move from a caregiver is one more time a child could experience ambiguous loss over the separation.

    It was once thought that a child could not feel loss over the separation from birth family they had never known; however more recent research has shown that adopted youth may in fact grieve over the loss (Grotevant et al, 2000).

    Adopted individuals who were able to discuss difficult feelings about the uncertainty and lack of information about birth family with their adoptive family showed less symptoms of ambiguous loss than those whose adoptive families had more closed conversations (Powell & Afifi, 2005).

    Some adopted children make up their own story about the circumstances of their adoption or use “magical thinking” to
    describe their imagined adoption scenario when they lack information.

    Adoptees have described the lack of knowledge about their biological families and reasons for separation as like “a book without the first few chapters” or as “lives written in pencil that can easily be erased.”

    Some researchers have found that ambiguous loss often peaks for adopted youth during adolescence when identity becomes part of the teenager’s developmental tasks.

    According to Boss,

    “. . . the greater the ambiguity surrounding one’s loss, the more difficult it is to master [the loss] and the greater one’s depression, anxiety, and family conflict”

    Why is this?

    • It is difficult for a person to resolve grief if they don’t know if the loss is temporary or final;
    • Uncertainty about the loss prevents a child’s ability to reorganize roles and relationships in their family;
    • There is a lack of a clear, symbolic ritual surrounding the loss;

    • The lost relationship is not socially recognized or is hidden from others;

    • The griever is not socially recognized (this is often the case with birth family, regardless of whether the child was removed voluntarily or involuntarily);

    • The circumstances that led to loss are perceived negatively by others.

    In the case of a parent’s death, for example, people understand the loss and rituals (such as funerals) help the child understand and provide closure to the relationship with that parent.

    However, as Boss writes,

    “Existing rituals and community supports only address clear-cut loss such as death.”

    When a child is separated from his or her parents due to child protection intervention, relinquishment or abandonment, the parent may be physically absent but the psychological presence may still be very much in the child’s mind. Knowing the parent is out there “somewhere” can be confusing or  anxiety-inducing for the child. They may wonder if they will run into the parent at the grocery store, for example, or wonder if the parent will call them someday.

    Also, because adoption is commonly viewed positively as a joyous event in our society, a child may feel confusion or guilt over being asked to be happy that they were separated from their birth family. Extended family members and community may not recognize or understand that adoption is directly related to the loss of  the original birth family.

    Suggestions for helping children manage feelings of ambiguous loss:

    • Give voice to the ambiguity. Provide a name to the feelings of ambiguous loss and acknowledge how difficult It is to live with this ambiguity.

    • Learn to redefine what it means to be a family.

    Boss writes,

    “Acting as if the membership list of an adoptive family is etched in stone may in the end be more stressful than explicitly recognizing that the family has some ambiguous boundaries.”

    • Adopted children need to be given permission to grieve the loss of their family of origin without feeling  guilty

    • Help the child identify what has been lost (the loss may not be limited to the actual parent – the loss could also include the membership of that extended family, the loss of the home or town they were born in, the loss of having a family that looks like them, the loss of their family surname, or for internationally adopted youth the loss of birth country and language;

    • Create a “loss box.” In her work with adopted adolescents, therapist Debbie Riley guides the youth as they decorate a box in which they place items that represent things they’ve lost. This gives the youth both a ritual for acknowledging the loss and a way for them to revisit the people or relationships in the future.

    • Include birth parents and birth family members in the child’s family “orchard” so the child can literally and figuratively place them in their self-narrative “history”

    • Sometimes certain events trigger feelings of loss such as holidays, birthdays or the anniversary of an adoption. Alter or add to family rituals to acknowledge the child’s feelings about these important people or  relationships that have been lost.

    For example, adding an extra candle representing the child’s birth family on his or her cake may be a way of remembering their part in your child’s life on that day; or even an acknowledgement like “I bet your mom and dad are thinking about you today” recognizes those ambiguous relationships.

    • Don’t set an expectation that grief over ambiguous loss will be “cured,” “fixed” or “resolved” in any kind of predetermined time frame.

    Explain that feelings related to ambiguous loss will come and go at different times in a person’s life and provide a safe place for the child to express those feelings.

    Adults must be mindful of the trauma that accompanies each transition to a different placement or with new caregivers.

    It is important for social workers, foster parents and adoptive parents to recognize how ambiguous loss and grief may affect adopted youth – especially as they near adolescence and young adulthood.

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    For more information:
    Ambiguous loss: Learning to live with unresolved grief. Pauline Boss, (1999). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
     
    Ambiguous loss in adolescents: Increasing understanding to enhance intervention. L. Ashbourne, L. Baker & C. Male (2002).
     
    This free, downloadable pdf is available at www.lfcc.on.ca.
    Disenfranchised grief: Recognizing hidden sorrow. K.J. Doka (2002). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.
     
    Adoptive identity: How contexts within and beyond the family shape developmental pathways. H.D. Grotevant, N. Dunbar, J.K. Kohler & A.M.L. Esau (2000). Family Relations, 49: 379-387.
     
    Uncertainty management and adoptees’ ambiguous loss of their birth parents. K.A. Powell & T.D. Afifi (2005). Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Vol. 22(1): 129-151.
     
    Beneath the mask: Understanding adopted teens. D. Riley & J. Meeks (2006). Burtonsville, MD: C.A.S.E. Publications