What determines the amount of spousal support in Texas?

During or after a divorce, the court may order either spouse to provide financial support to the other. The periodic payment is known as spousal support, meant for their maintenance. Notably, spousal support is separate from child support or property division.

No spouse has a right to such support. They must demonstrate that they have made an effort in good faith to earn an income or acquire the necessary training or education towards becoming financially independent. Should the requesting spouse still need support, the court will order it after evaluating their needs, guided by the law.

Factors considered when calculating alimony

Usually, the court has broad discretion in determining the amount and duration of spousal support. Some of the factors considered under Texas laws include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The spouse’s ability to pay spousal support
  • The education and employment skills of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s monetary and non-monetary contributions to the marriage
  • Whether there was marital misconduct in the marriage, such as adultery or domestic abuse
  • The spouse’s contribution towards the education, career or earning power of the other
  • The age, physical and mental condition of the requesting parent, among others

All these will be used in determining the amount of spousal support the paying spouse is obligated to make to the other. In Texas, the amount cannot be more than $5,000 a month or exceed 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income. The lesser of the two is what the court will usually order in spousal support.

Spousal support orders are enforceable and modifiable

If the court orders spousal support, the paying spouse has to obey the court’s directives. Otherwise, the court can employ several enforcement tools to compel them to pay. In addition, it is possible to modify the amount of spousal support if there have been substantial changes in either spouse’s life.

If you are getting a divorce, it is necessary to understand how spousal support works and what you need to do to safeguard your financial interests. It could help you adjust to life post-divorce, given the financial implications of legally splitting from your spouse.

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crying in a field

Leaving A Narcissist Partner – A True Story Of Devastation, Discovery and Finally Freedom

The Realisation

There were three things that happened that made me finally sum up the courage to be able to walk out of my own home on the day I left my narcissist partner.  It’s not that I hadn’t felt those emotions before, it is just that they were so much stronger than before.

First, I had woken up twice that week realising that it had been a quiet couple of days and all seemed too quiet.  Not only was I worrying about what might happen next and trying to think of how to avoid it, but I found myself missing the ‘adrenaline’ of conflict. That was horrifying.

Then it was a conversation – snatched when I took our dog out for a quick walk – with my daughter who said: “I know you had told us that xxx is struggling with their mental health and that all will be ok in the end, and we try to understand.  But I really miss you so much. I’m frightened for you.”

crying in a field

And then when I found myself sitting on the grass in the middle of a field crying my eyes out, not knowing how I got there, not knowing who I was and ashamed of the ‘thing’ that was sitting there sobbing.  Then I knew that, after all the years of lying awake at night wondering what to do, how to change this situation, what the risks were of being ‘tough’ and saying ‘get out’ or of me leaving the ‘home for life’ that I had bought before this relationship, there was nothing that could be as bad as staying in this incredibly toxic, destructive and body, mind and soul-destroying marriage with a narcissist.

Devastation

So I rang my dearest friends (again) who said “Come now, just drive here or we will pick you up.  Don’t go back to the house.” Quite rightly they insisted we told the police I had left and why, detailing some of the recent emotional and financial abuse that I had been suffering to ensure they had a record; but also because we were in lockdown.  Yes, lockdown may have made things worse but it was not the cause of the final decision I made.  

I lived with my friends for three months and I was like a zombie, totally overwrought, exhausted, emotional and frightened.  Frightened of myself as well as what the person I’d left might do and what might happen. My grown-up children were amazing – tried so hard to be non-judgemental and not to show how much they had hated what they saw going on, but quite clear that it was right to leave.  

I had to stop working as we had worked together; everyone was shocked – but it was clear they saw more than I appreciated.  I fretted about ‘losing’ my step children, which I realised was inevitable but I felt I could not explain to them fully without hurting them too much and could not put them in that impossible position torn between us; their parent would expect their loyalty.  As adults, my view is that they need to work it out for themselves and one day, I very much hope, to understand and re-establish contact with me.  I’ve tried to show them I still love them just the same.

Hoovering

Classic behaviour by my ex followed my departure: desperate pleas to get me to go back, promises of change and counselling being received so they finally understood what they’d been doing wrong; appealing to my friends and family; saying how hard it would be for me to be alone, offering everything they could but also subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) pressurising.  I had friends listen in.  I recorded conversations.  I got a solicitor. I spent hours – days (and nights sometimes) – writing stuff down, looking at figures, considering options, constantly trying to predict what they would do, wondering what my future would look like.female narcissist

By this stage though, I was not going to be persuaded to go back.  I knew the truth.  I knew they could never change, whatever they promised.  I knew the patterns of behaviour. I had learned so much more about narcissism by then that I realised that their excuse of being ‘mentally ill’ (PTSD, Attachment Disorder diagnoses) was not the primary reason they behaved as they did. They had always wanted to control, wanted the fights, wanted the power; they even admitted to being addicted to the adrenaline of volatile relationships.

I accept that their behaviour was made worse by their troubled upbringing, but fundamentally the traits were always there.  That was clear from very early on in our relationship, looking back and also remembering what others said in their family.  Yes, there was apparently awful abuse in their younger years, but I should have seen the signs when they spoke about how they turned that around and ‘used’ the perpetrators by learning how to control them.  Or how they enjoyed certain aspects of relationships – past and present – in an abnormally intense way.  

How did it take me so long to leave? How did I reach that breaking point? And how might someone reading this realise earlier and be brave enough to make what has to be the hardest decision for the partner of a narcissist, realising the likely consequences?

Discovery

The lessons it took me years to learn were many. I could never prove to them that my love was secure and sufficient so that they did not need to control me in order to feel safe; and I could never succeed in ‘changing them’ or helping them to find ways to change.  I’d tried, believe me I’d tried – to get them to see that life could be good together and that trust – the one thing they claimed they sought from/with me, was something they had from me already – until they started to destroy me and everything around me. 

I knew they had to want to change.  But all I heard them saying was that they did not want to – would not; it was me who had to change to understand them and show them that they were the most important thing in my life.

Over that last year or so, ever since once of the biggest emotional challenges in my life, the loss of a beloved close relative and the subsequent increasingly horrendous behaviour of my partner, the difference was that I was starting to say ‘no’.  Or I would say that I understood if they felt a certain way, but that I did not agree; or I would not support a decision that they were making related to our joint business; or that one day I would be doing something that they tried to ‘ban’ – like attending my daughter’s wedding or ‘being a grandparent’ should the time come – whatever they said or did to frighten or stop me.  I had started to ‘rebel’.  

Once they recognised some clearer signs that I saw through their behaviour and I also stopped reacting to the threats of suicide or illness, and that I expected our relationship to change – however much help we both needed to achieve it and however many battles we had to get through – they started to see a bit of strength coming through in me.  destruction

The Smear Campaign

Then they flipped to destruction.  Total personal, family and professional (work skills) destruction.  Before then, it had mostly been about them, how much they were suffering and had suffered, how badly they struggled with their PTSD and other issues; I should understand why they were like this and fit around them.  Then we would be happy.  

The existing behaviours grew stronger, but with the added impact of far more personal, emotional abuse.  Constant undermining, criticism, belittling of me and my (dead) parents, my adult children and my friends.  Constant pressure to do or not do things related to our finances.  Constant ways of manipulating me into situations that made me feel bad, wrong or a failure.  

Even more than before, they stopped me seeing my friends, my family, doing the things I loved, often blaming their ‘trauma’ and because I needed to understand that if I truly loved them, I did not need my past, or my friends, or even my family, as they should be enough.  I should let go of the past.  And the physical symptoms of their ‘illness’ came through increasingly – so I became a carer when all is said and done.  Then they had me.  The control was so powerful – I was drawn into that fear that they needed me as otherwise they were a danger to themselves, so I had to be there for them all the time.  I was committed to caring for them because I had loved them. Once, long ago.  

Now I was scared to leave them because of the likely consequences of constant threats of suicide and the impact on their young adult children who were always vulnerable in so many ways – even if neither they nor their parent realised it – as well as financial loss and risk to my very own home that they had gained rights to.  I wasn’t sure I had the strength to do it.

Last Chance

Through it all, I put on that brave face to the outside world – most of the time.  I kept working and delivering good results.  I tried to support my children. I certainly supported theirs – I wanted to.  I paid for lots of things.  I looked after our home.  I told those that knew more, that I still hoped that the counselling that my partner had started to get would help and we’d be ok.  I think I knew I was pretending; I just didn’t know how to stop the snowball rolling.drowning

Ultimately, I knew I was losing myself and feeling such shame in how weak I was to allow it, but also so frightened of the consequences of standing up for myself.  They were shouting, hitting walls or throwing things more often.  And I would dissolve into a crying, shaking mess of frustration and exhaustion from never, ever being able to get them to understand what they were doing to me, to our relationship, to our respective children from previous marriages, to our future.  Even spelling out that I was not able to live like this and could take no more.  All ignored. 

They thought they had broken me sufficiently that I had no choice and nowhere to go.  

So the circle was created and as a person who wants to give, to care and to help others, I was an easy target. If any of this rings true to you, please give yourself some compassion and understanding.  Trying not to blame myself for the mess I got into – or for the consequences of leaving – is still the most difficult thing I am trying to come to terms with.

Eventually I felt strong enough to leave my friends’ home; I really believe it is important to have people around you at this time of crisis and they were incredible.  I rented a flat nearby, as I had offered for my ex and their son to stay in the home that I bought outright but handed half over to them when we married.  They had demanded I do so ‘to show my love and commitment’ so they ‘felt safe’.  I got legal guidance and advice from people who understood narcissistic relationships.  They all said ‘go the legal route’ as they understood I could not face being in a room with my ex, or even on the phone with them any more; and that the word or ‘commitment’ of a narcissist in such situations was unlikely to be trustworthy.  our respective children from previous marriages

On the occasions I went to go to my home to collect belongings, I could just about cope with the verbal abuse and emotional blackmail while there, but as I walked away my thumping heart beat even faster, I became tearful, I started shaking.  Even if I just heard the voice, or saw a photo.

My brain went into overdrive wondering what they would do next, what was going to happen to my house, whether they would try to take as much from me as they could.  Ultimately, I knew they would: they wanted to punish me financially, take what was important to me and be as awkward as they could in the process.   The desire to ‘punish’ is very real: I learned once again never to trust their word but always to expect them to keep that control somehow and continue to hurt where they could.  

Sleepless night after sleepless night; BUT it got better.  

Yes, over the months it got better, because the relief of being away from the destructive words, the constant battles and emotional exhaustion enabled me to start being me again. To be able to work out right from wrong, to try to accept options and likely outcomes.  And I got help that I didn’t know was out there, nor did I know just how badly traumatised I was.  It was one of the policemen who spent time with me right back on the day I left, who was so clear. He’d seen and heard enough to say I was a victim of domestic abuse and I had every right to resort to criminal law.  That shook me.  But it definitely helped me truly realise it wasn’t just me. I’d struggled for so long thinking I was the cause, and forgiving behaviours due to ‘illness’.  Even though my friends told me otherwise.  It was the police and the solicitor who could give that professional, independent view.

Support

lifeboat

The police helped me to set up some counselling through local resources which did help but I was incredibly fortunate when an acquaintance locally was brave enough to contact me – she had seen me out walking a couple of times in a terrible state – and said “I worked out what was going on and it happened to me.  Talk to these people”.  She put me in touch with The Nurturing Coach.  The sessions I’ve had with Janine and guidance to understand both myself (vital) and the nature of the Narcissist, have been critical to my ongoing recovery.  Sometimes it’s empowering just to ramble on about the past, the emotions, the frustrations, with someone who understands and is rational, unbiased and trained to assist but also gives ‘sane and sensible’ explanations and suggestions of things that help.  

Even subconsciously, these techniques and ‘reminders’ help me every day. And always will. 

But my ex had rights, whatever they had done to me and my experience with the law was that it is totally facts and figures-based and little credit is given to behaviours or to either party’s actual input to a relationship.  Emotional abuse is still a highly complex and almost impossible thing to prove and likely to be too big a challenge for someone who has suffered it badly.  So, you accept what is the law but try to get a solution as quickly as possible. 

Once they know they are not going to get you back, all the promises, all the declarations are gone out of the window; they will want every pound of flesh they can get.  They are clever.  They will use every trick they have to control even the legal system as best they can or just be slow in responses; and to keep you wondering and waiting.  They will say very little to others because of course they will only want people to know that ‘they have been badly treated and are only asking for what they are entitled to’.  But I think that most people see through it in the end.  

Get help.  Tell people what is happening.  Understand your options.  Yes, get legal advice, but if possible, try to avoid getting into the full legal process and opt for mediation as it is SO much cheaper, less painful and less long drawn out.  You can now find appropriate support/procedures to go through this route in a different way to ‘the norm’ to manage the challenges of dealing with the person you cannot bear to be near.  If this really doesn’t work, then you can turn to the law.  It is hard and expensive but does bring conclusion.  

So: what are the magic words that help me through? Even now, over a year after leaving, every day I need to remind myself and try to overcome the negative and sad thoughts: integrity, trust, kindness, truth and love.  I can hold up my head and say I have always tried to act with those words and beliefs in mind.  But yes, I feel angry; yes, I often feel incredibly resentful that they can do this to someone, that they can destroy a person they claim to love and take so much from them in terms of not only money but self-belief. 

Freedom

If I had understood just how appalling and severe narcissism can be, I would have said ‘no’ before I got ‘buried’ by my ex’s behaviours. But hindsight is certainly a wonderful thing.  If you are a person who has similar traits to me, then I have learned to accept that this is not a bad thing.  I am loving and trusting – but I was not prepared with the knowledge to recognise my own character strengths and weaknesses, nor to understand the extreme character traits that make up the severe narcissist. I’m not a ‘youngster’; I reckoned I was fairly ‘worldly wise’, reasonably intelligent and had a strength of character and strong beliefs. But I was taken in.  Never underestimate a narcissist.

The strength to act can be found – at some point in the rollercoaster life of being with a narcissist – but sadly it may take personal crisis to find it.  It is better to cope with whatever else comes along than live a lie, live a life that is controlled and downtrodden.  But I accept that I had a part to play in that.  If I had not been vulnerable to such a character due to both my circumstances at the time, but also my nature as a person, I would have finished this relationship before it grew into a marriage. I was ‘caught in the net’ and I realised too late how much I was being manipulated from day one. 

freedomSo yes – read, listen, research – but also know who you are. It’s important to acknowledge what is right for you.  Know the character traits of different personalities in our complex world of human natures; be prepared.  But do, please, keep believing that a loving relationship can exist and that life does go on. I’ve had years of anguish and I’ve handed over a lot of money to someone who had already taken so much in one way or another, in order to get my home and independence back, but I am far stronger and I am now surrounded by the people I love, doing the things I want and am starting to live my life again. 

Above all I believe that if I can find the courage, so can you.  I know my story does not involve young children, and that factor makes a massive difference to choices and timing and how you can get out, but I hope my words can help you believe it is possible.

Now I have Family, Friends and FREEDOM – they can never take these away and so I won; I won the very things they never wanted me to have.

This post was written by one of our brave and cherished clients.  She hopes it will help someone get through their experience of a narcissist partner.

The post Leaving A Narcissist Partner – A True Story Of Devastation, Discovery and Finally Freedom appeared first on The Nurturing Coach.

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Why Netflix’s MAID is so important for abuse survivors

Why Netflix’s MAID is so important for abuse survivors

There’s a lot of talk about Netflix‘s MAID at the moment. It tells the story of a women fleeing an abusive relationship and the systemic difficulties she faces.

I wanted to share some thoughts about the show based on my own experience:

Firstly, whilst the main protagonist is relatively young, white female anyone escaping an abusive relationship (old/young, male/female, sexuality, whatever ethnicity and race) has experienced these scenarios.

1) the victim often doesn’t identify their own experience as abusive which can mean that they don’t access specifically designed support services when they need them the most. For some, even when they do reach out for help they are gaslighted by the professionals who belittle their experience

2) emotional abuse is hard to prove but that doesn’t make it any less damaging. In my opinion it is often more so. There is a common consensus that physical violence is wrong but emotional violence is subjective and that can make a victim who has been blamed for their natural responses for so long, feel even more “broken and damaged”. Emotional abuse leaves deep scars.

3) PTSD distorts a person’s responses to both normal and abnormal situations. Someone might get angry because they stepped in a puddle but not respond at all to being shouted at. This is because their nervous system is dysregulated. Don’t take someone’s behaviour as evidence of their character. Look for the why.

4) Trauma bonding with an abuser means that many people don’t leave or return repeatedly. It doesn’t mean the abuse “wasn’t that bad”. It means they are chemically bound to their abuser due to the psychological torture they have endured.

5) They also experience cognitive dissonance which means that they can both love and hate the person at the same time. They aren’t crazy. Their brain is struggling to process two conflicting experiences at the same time because the love/hate drip they have been on is powerful.

6) Just because everyone else thinks someone is wonderful, does not mean they can’t be an abusive partner or parent. Abusers are master manipulators, toying with people’s perception of them. They have a brilliant public facade which masks their darker private self.

7) Victims need to be able to talk about their experience. It is an essential part of their processing of the trauma. This might mean that they present as having “verbal diarrhea” and disjointed conversations, switching from one topic to another. It doesn’t mean they are chronically unstable. They are detoxing and it isn’t always nice and neat.

Abuse is uncomfortable primarily for the victim but also for society. 

We don’t want to be confronted by human’s potential for causing suffering.

 Especially within the home as “our home is our castle”. Domestic abuse is raging a war within our own fortresses. 

Shows like MAID are bringing it into our homes and therefore our consciousness. It’s time to get comfortable with our uncomfortableness.

 

Have you watched it?  What are your thoughts?

The post Why Netflix’s MAID is so important for abuse survivors appeared first on The Nurturing Coach.

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Dr. Jennifer Kagan-Viater Discusses the Impact of Intimate Partner Violence and Domestic Abuse on Parenting: Keira’s Law

In this episode of the Where Parents Talk podcast, Lianne Castelino speaks to Dr. Jennifer Kagan-Viater, palliative care physician and mother, as well as Philip Viater, family law lawyer and father, about the impact of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence on parenting.

“…it has been very difficult. You know, I think what some people may not realize is that for others watching our story, two years have gone by. But for us, it feels like Keira was killed just yesterday. And if anything, the grief gets worse, you know, we miss our daughter terribly. And we still have to deal with these very same institutions that failed Keira so miserably.”

Dr. Jennifer Kagan-Viater
Palliative Care Physician, Mother, Advocate, Domestic Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence

Listen here.

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truths about domestic violence

5 Truths About Domestic Violence And Abusive Relationships

truths about domestic violence

 

Domestic violence and abuse are becoming an epidemic in today’s culture. It is estimated that 38,028,000 women will experience physical intimate partner violence at some point during their lives.

Men can fall victim to abusive relationships as well. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 10 American men have experienced physical violence, stalking, or rape inflicted by a partner. Another 1 in 7 men will be the victims of severe physical abuse at the hand of a romantic partner.

Whether the perpetrator is male or female, studies show that abusers often share the same traits of aggression, mood swings, no self-control, severe jealousy, and high rates of suspicion.

Are you or someone you know experiencing domestic violence and abuse? Here are 5 sobering facts about abusive relationships and what you can do to help.

5 Truths About Domestic Violence

TRUTH #1. It’s More Common Than We Think

Many people have a caricatured version of who they believe to be in an abusive relationship and that the abusive is obvious. That one spouse will be constantly yelling at their partner, or that bruises or other signs of physical abuse are apparent.

Perhaps they believe people in abusive relationships are from a lower socioeconomic background. But this simply isn’t true.

One sad truth about domestic violence and abuse is that they are much more common than one might think. It happens to children, teenagers, and adults, with nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experiencing physical abuse from a romantic partner each and every year.

It is estimated that 11,766 American women are killed every year by their husbands or boyfriends, which is more than the war in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

Abusive relationships are common and it’s time to shed some light on the truth.

TRUTH #2. Your Spouse Becomes Extremely Possessive and Controlling

As mentioned at the onset, jealousy is a common trait of abusive relationships. Partners seek to control their spouse to prevent them from cheating. Abusers may use the following tactics to control their spouse:

  • Isolating spouse from friends and family in fear that close associates will help the victim leave the toxic relationship.
  • Threatening self-harm if a partner says they are ending the relationship
  • Resorting to physical violence to prevent a partner from socializing
  • Forcing a partner to quit their job so that they are financially reliant on the abuser

Such behavior can be traumatizing to the victim. It is estimated that 81% of women experiencing stalking, physical violence, or rape by an intimate partner will end up being injured physically or will develop some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

TRUTH #3. Abuse is More than Physical Violence

Physical abuse is clear to define. It occurs when one partner acts violently toward the other. Slapping, kicking, grabbing, pushing, beating, or using a weapon against a partner is clear-cut, unacceptable behavior.

But one truth about abusive relationships is that abuse hardly ends with physical violence.

Emotional abuse is a common method of control done by an abuser. Emotional abuse can take the form of insults, demeaning speech, making a partner feel crazy or stupid, bipolar mood swings, blaming a partner for poor behavior, and using religion or guilt to force a partner to stay.

Statistics show that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime. This is a facet of an abusive relationship.

Sexual abuse is marked by any unwanted sexual advances or forced intercourse. Sexual control is another form of abuse, perhaps making a partner watch adult films or participate in sexual acts they are uncomfortable with. Refusing to allow a partner to practice safe sex or sexually humiliating or degrading a partner also fall under sexual abuse.

Domestic violence and abuse can also involve withholding food, shelter, and finances from a spouse.

TRUTH #4. Not all Abusive Relationships are Obvious

While it’s true that some abusers may be negative, controlling, uncaring people, many have positive qualities that draw victims in.

Abusers are commonly charming, loving individuals who will apologize for their bad behavior only to repeat it time and again. In some cases, the abuse may not start for some time. It may even be years. An abusive relationship may start off as loving and wonderful as the start of any normal relationship. This is what makes abusers so hard to spot.

TRUTH #5. Leaving Is Hard

Often, when one hears the intimate details of an abusive relationship they will ask “Why didn’t he/she just leave?”

The truth is, abusers, do not make it easy for their partners to leave the relationship. They have physically or mentally beaten down the victim until their self-esteem is nonexistent.

A spouse may feel they are not capable of leaving. Their abuser has told them that this is the best they will ever be able to do in life or may withhold finances, their children, or other provisions to prevent a separation from occurring.

It is also common for an abuser to enter a honeymoon phase after abuse has occurred. They may be on their best behavior for a time, apologizing to the wounded spouse and promising to change their ways.

A victim’s forgiving nature or love for their spouse may compel them to stay and help their partner.

Research indicates that a victim will attempt to leave an abusive relationship 7 times before leaving for good.

Leaving an abusive situation can be very dangerous, especially for women, with most violence and deaths occurring during an attempt to leave.

Visit the Domestic Violence Intervention Program for an extensive checklist for leaving an abusive relationship in the safest way possible.

Has your relationship turned toxic? It may be in your best interest to consider separation in marriage. Put the safety of you or your children first by getting out of an aggressive and unhealthy home. If you need help getting out of an abusive situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text 1-800-787-3224

The post 5 Truths About Domestic Violence And Abusive Relationships appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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stayed so long in psychologically abusive relationship

Why I Stayed So Long In a Psychologically Abusive Relationship

stayed so long in psychologically abusive relationship

 

It has been a little over 15 months since it occurred to me that I needed to escape.

That staying with a controlling, and psychologically abusive person was harming my kids more in the long run, than the effects of leaving and starting a whole new life would.

That maybe, just maybe, if I had the strength to endure this treatment for so many years, that I could find the strength to leave.

And so I left.. or started the grueling process of leaving.

Over a year later the most common question I’ve been asked, “Why did you stay?”

So for those of you that have never been in a relationship like this one, that sadly so many of us have been, I thought I would try to answer that burning question.

Why I Stayed So Long In a Psychologically Abusive Relationship

Many assume it is simply the idea of breaking up a family that keeps us in the cycle of abuse. But I am here to say .. no… that is not what made me stay.

Forgive me as my ability to express myself in writing has never been my strong suit.. but here goes.

We stay because we have been controlled and manipulated to believe that we have no other viable options. There are often elements of financial control among a lot of other seemingly simple reasons that keep us in “it”. But they are not simple…not simple at all.

I can only speak on my own behalf here but I suspect that others will be able to relate on some level.

Poor self-worth. Fear. The belief deep down, from years of damage, that we are not worthy of anything better. That we are not strong enough, on our own, to provide for ourselves and/ our kids. Our identity has been slowly taken away, piece by piece until we no longer know who we are, what we want, and most importantly, what we are capable of.

It began for me as small bits of mind control that left me dependent and uncertain.

It got so deeply ingrained into my subconscious mind that I was not good enough or strong enough. These small acts that I endured on a daily basis reaffirmed, in my damaged and vulnerable mind, exactly what my abuser wanted me to feel. Doubtful, scared, and unworthy.

But because each of these small bits of exposure are just that.. small.. especially at first… it became the norm for me. I forgot how to challenge my own thoughts. Forgot how my own beautiful intuition worked. The supposed “red flags” people warned me about. I was made to feel those were endearing ways that my abuser used to show his love. My value slowly changed .. it became based on pleasing my abuser as opposed to rocking the boat.

My own “gut” feeling was slowly reprogrammed to accept that this was love and totally normal.

Each incident, each cycle, that often ended with a “honeymoon” phase of attention, affection, and a brief break from the actual abuse, told me that I must be crazy to feel this was wrong. That he loved me, look at all he is doing to show me his love.

This is all part of the game of control.

The words of affirmation that came in those moments were used to fuck up my instincts. To make me convince myself that I must be wrong. And hence..”gut”, “intuition”, “red flags” were all my own broken thoughts. That there is no way that this could be bad when he clearly loves me soooo much. WRONG!!

Bit by bit the small bits became bigger bits. Looking in, looking back now from a safe and happy place, I can see that. But in those years and years that I endured this, when I thought I was becoming stronger I was actually becoming more and more used to this abuse. It became so normal and routine that it no longer even felt concerning. It was just how love worked.

In fact, if it was slightly muted because maybe he was distracted by a new job or business, it felt weird and uncomfortable for me. So then I would try harder to please and conform and seek the abuse and control that was slowly killing me on the inside because it was how I thought love was meant to be shown.

Abuse became my love language.

Insane right? How could that be? Well, friends, that is how it works. Manipulation and control slowly eat away at your soul until it no longer is your own soul at all.

In a strange twist of events, it finally occurred to me one day when my young child was verbally abusive and disrespectful and I thought to myself “how dare you treat another human, especially your mom, this way. Where do you get off thinking this is okay?”

OMG .. somewhere inside of me the “fight or flight” mode that humans are wired with, but abuse victims are rewired to deactivate, was switched back on. How on earth could I have been so stupid to not see what had been happening all these years until this very moment? And what the actual fuck do I do about it now that I have children, absolutely no financial control, and no self-esteem or self-worth.

I am the lucky one. The one that is surrounded by caring and loving friends and family. The one that finally found the strength to realize that the “how” and “when” didn’t matter anymore. Only the “why” mattered now.  Why I had to get the fuck out is the “why” that I mean.

Some of us are not so lucky.

Some of us may never have an “aha moment” that triggers that fight or flight mode back into action. The programming that is done day after day, year after year, is so damn hard to breakthrough. Some of us are not surrounded by loving and caring friends and family that we know will help us pick up the pieces of our broken lives and put them back together. Some of us are not so lucky, and that type of abuse turns into physical violence, and we feel even more trapped and damaged and afraid.

ALL of us need to remember that we never can tell what goes on behind closed doors. That one simple and kind gesture might be enough to show the “unlucky” one the real, kind, caring love that they deserve and be the switch flipper they need to reactivate fight or flight mode.

To this day I am struggling with uncovering more and more ways that this abuser scarred me. I am easily triggered, it is hard for me to know what real and healthy love and relationships feel like. It has been HARD AS FUCK to remember the fierce, confident, self-assured, smart, in control of her own thoughts, independent, and brave woman that used to live in this body.

So thank you to those that put up with my pushing them away year after year, and thank you to those that never gave up on that woman that was hiding away inside that scared and abused mind, and thank you to those that have pushed me to see my potential, and thank you to those that have shown me what true healthy love should feel like and look like, and thank you to those that remind me that I am worth it, and thank you to those that do not give up on me and my kids because they know we deserve to be surrounded by loving and caring and supportive people, and thank you to those that kick my ass on days that I forget all of this took so much fucking strength that getting through the rest of life should be a breeze in comparison.

I will tell you that it takes more courage and strength to leave and to find that woman again than it did to endure that abuse year after year.  I will also tell you that if any tiny part of this feels like your life, you are fucking worth it, and if I can do it, you can too.

The post Why I Stayed So Long In a Psychologically Abusive Relationship appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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why we can love someone abusive

Why We Can Love Someone Abusive And Why We Stay

why we can love someone abusive

 

Falling in love happens to us; usually, before we really know our partner; It happens to us because we’re at the mercy of unconscious forces, commonly referred to as “chemistry.”

Don’t judge yourself for loving someone who doesn’t treat you with care and respect, because by the time the relationship turns abusive, you’re attached and want to maintain your connection and love. There may have been hints of abuse at the beginning that were overlooked because abusers are good at seduction and wait until they know we’re hooked before showing their true colors.

By then, our love is cemented and doesn’t die easily. It’s possible and even probable to know we’re unsafe and still love an abuser. Research shows that even victims of violence on average experience seven incidents before permanently leaving their abusive partner.

It can feel humiliating to stay in an abusive relationship. Those who don’t understand ask why we love someone abusive and why we stay. We don’t have good answers. But there are valid reasons. Our motivations are outside our awareness and control because we’re wired to attach for survival. These instincts control our feelings and behavior.

Why We Love Someone Abusive

Denial of Abuse to Survive

If we weren’t treated with respect in our family and have low self-esteem, we will tend to deny the abuse. We won’t expect to be treated better than how were controlled, demeaned, or punished by a parent. Denial doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s happening. Instead, we minimize or rationalize it and/or its impact.

We may not realize it’s actually abuse. Research shows we deny for survival to stay attached and procreate for survival of the species. Facts and feelings that would normally undermine love are minimized or twisted so that we overlook them or blame ourselves in order to keep loving. By appeasing our partner and connecting to love, we stop hurting. Love is rekindled and we feel safe again.

Projection, Idealization, and Repetition Compulsion

When we fall in love, if we haven’t worked through trauma from our childhood, we’re more susceptible to idealizing our partner when dating. It’s likely that we will seek out someone who reminds us of a parent with whom we have unfinished business, not necessary of our opposite-sex parent.

We might be attracted to someone who has aspects of both parents. Our unconscious is trying to mend our past by reliving it in the hopes that we’ll master the situation and receive the love we didn’t get as a child. This helps us overlook signs that would be predictive of trouble.

The Cycle of Abuse

After an abusive episode, often there’s a honeymoon period. This is part of the Cycle of Abuse. The abuser may seek connection and act romantic, apologetic, or remorseful. Regardless, we’re relieved that there’s peace for now. We believe promises that it will never happen again, because we want to and because we’re wired to attach. The breach of the emotional bond feels worse than the abuse. We yearn to feel connected again.

Often the abuser professes to love us. We want to believe it and feel reassured about the relationship, hopeful, and lovable. Our denial provides an illusion of safety. This is called the “Merry-Go-Round” of denial that happens in alcoholic relationships after a bout of drinking followed by promises of sobriety.

Low Self-Esteem

Due to low self-esteem, we believe the abuser’s belittling, blame, and criticisms, which further lessen our self-esteem and confidence in our own perceptions. They intentionally do this for power and control. We’re brainwashed into thinking we have to change in order to make the relationship work.

We blame ourselves and try harder to meet the abuser’s demands. We may interpret sexual overtures, crumbs of kindness, or just absence of abuse as signs of love or hope that the relationship will improve. Thus, as trust in ourselves declines, our idealization and love for an abuser remain intact. We may even doubt that we could find anything better.

Empathy for the Abuser

Many of us have empathy for the abuser, but not for ourselves. We are unaware of our needs and would feel ashamed asking for them. This makes us susceptible to manipulation if an abuser plays the victim, exaggerates guilt, shows remorse, blames us, or talks about a troubled past (they usually have one). Our empathy feeds our denial system by supplying justification, rationalization, and minimization of the pain we endure.

Most victims hide the abuse from friends and relatives to protect the abuser, both out of empathy and shame about being abused. Secrecy is a mistake and gives the abuser more power.

Positive Aspects

Undoubtedly the abuser and the relationship have positive aspects that we enjoy or miss, especially the early romance and good times. We recall or look forward to their recurrence if we stay. We imagine if only he or she would control his or her anger, or agree to get help, or just change one thing, everything would be better. This is our denial.

Often abusers are also good providers, offer a social life, or have special talents. Narcissists can be exceedingly interesting and charming.  Many spouses claim that they enjoy the narcissist’s company and lifestyle despite the abuse. People with a borderline personality can light up your life with excitement . . . when they’re in a good mood. Sociopaths can pretend to be whatever you want . . . for their own purposes. You won’t realize what they’re up to for some time.

Intermittent Reinforcement and Trauma Bonding

When we receive occasional and unpredictable positive and negative intermittent reinforcement, we keep looking for the positive. It keeps us addictively hooked. Partners may be emotionally unavailable or have an avoidant attachment style. They may periodically want closeness. After a wonderful, intimate evening, they pull away, shut down, or are abusive. When we don’t hear from the person, we become anxious and keep seeking closeness. We mislabel our pain and longing as love.

Especially people with a personality disorder might intentionally do this to manipulate and control us with rejection or withholding. Then they randomly fulfill our needs. We become addicted to seeking a positive response.

Over time, periods of withdrawal are longer, but we’re trained to stay, walk on eggshells, and wait and hope for connection. This is called “trauma bonding” due to repeated cycles of abuse in which the intermittent reinforcement of reward and punishment creates emotional bonds that resist change.

It explains why abusive relationships are the most difficult to leave, and we become codependent on the abuser. We may completely lose ourselves trying to please and not displease the abuser. Bits of kindness or closeness feel all the more poignant (like make-up sex) because we’re been starved and are relieved to feel loved. This feeds the Cycle of Abuse.

Abusers will turn on the charm if you threaten to leave, but it’s just another temporary ploy to reassert control. Expect to go through withdrawal after you leave. You may still miss and love the abuser.

When we feel completely under the control of the abuser and can’t escape from physical injury, we can develop “Stockholm Syndrome,” a term applied to captives. Any act of kindness or even absence of violence feels like a sign of friendship and being cared for. The abuser seems less threatening. We imagine we’re friends and can love the abuser, believing we’re in this together.

This occurs in intimate relationships that are less perilous due to the power of chemistry, physical attraction, and sexual bonding. We’re loyal to a fault. We want to protect the abuser whom we’re attached to rather than ourselves. We feel guilty talking to outsiders, leaving the relationship, or calling the police. Outsiders who try to help feel threatening.

For example, counselors and Twelve-Step Programs may be viewed as interlopers who “want to brainwash and separate us.” This reinforces the toxic bond and isolates us from help . . . what the abuser wants!

Steps You Can Take

If you feel trapped in a relationship or can’t get over your ex:

  • Seek support and professional help. Attend CoDA meetings.
  • Get information and challenge your denial.
  • Report violence and take steps to protect yourself from violence and emotional abuse.
  • When you miss the abuser or are longing for attention, in your mind substitute the parent whom you’re projecting on your partner. Write about and grieve that relationship.
  • Be more loving to yourself. Meet your needs.
  • Learn to set boundaries.

©Darlene Lancer 2019

The post Why We Can Love Someone Abusive And Why We Stay appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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order of protection

4 Things You Need To Know About An Order Of Protection

order of protection

 

Otherwise known as a restraining order, an order of protection is a legal document that limits the contact one individual can have with another. The laws pertaining to restraining orders are different in each state. In the state of New York, an order of protection is an order from the court that tells a person the amount of contact he or she can have with another person. It also states what he or she is not allowed to do to the other person.

The amount of contact allowed will depend on the case. In some cases, there will be some contact permitted, while in others, no contact will be allowed at all. An order of protection is meant to limit the behavior of the person who may threaten or harm to another individual.

Both family courts and criminal courts possess the power to institute an order of protection. Your divorce lawyer can assist you in this legal process.

How Is an Order of Protection Obtained?

Start by contacting your divorce lawyer, so they can help differentiate which orders of protection will work best for your specific circumstance. You will need a professional attorney to back you up in court.

An order of protection in a criminal court will be issued against this person who has committed a crime. Should they commit this crime, contact the police immediately. The terms and conditions of the order of protection will be determined in the Criminal Court.

To get an order of protection through a Family Court, you must have a particular relationship with the individual whom you are issuing an order against. Specifically, here are the relationships we mean:

  • Spouses (either current or former).
  • A family member who is blood-related or related by marriage.
  • Individuals who have had children together.
  • Having a current or former intimate relationship (this is more than a casual relationship, but does not have to be sexual. The court will determine the state of the relationship when given the details).

Make sure that before filing a case in court, you contact a legal professional that has your best interests in mind.

How Long is The Order of Protection Valid?

Initially, you may receive a temporary order of protection. When the case comes to an end, the court may issue a final order of protection. This may last anywhere from one year to several years depending on the case.

What Can I Do if an Order of Protection is Violated?

Violating an order of protection is against the law. Violation is considered a crime and should be reported to the police. You should contact your divorce lawyer in Plainview right away if your order of protection has been violated.

Can The Details of an Order of Protection Be Changed?

The court who issued the order of protection can make changes according to the details of the case. The court may add or limit child visitations. The court may also change the wording in the order such as changing “refrain from” to “stay away” or vice versa. The order can also be extended if needed.

Who Can Help?

Legal professionals can help you in filing for an order of protection. With the help of a top-quality attorney that specializes in family and matrimonial litigation, you can have all bases covered. You should not have to live your life in fear or discomfort with the looming thought that you’ll have to deal with a particular individual. So do not feel ashamed to reach out for help because you do have options. With the help of a divorce lawyer, you can ensure that you are getting as much space as you need.

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