Decoration Day 2014

Dear John,

As we were preparing for Memorial Day last year, I didn’t know what to expect. You had just convinced me again to take you back, after another nightmare of a breakup, and all of the abusive behavior leading up to it. I was foolish enough to believe that this time you really did want to change, that you were going to go to a therapist alone to talk about your bad relationships with your mother and your daughter and how their behavior was impacting how you were treating me. You admitted that when they got you upset or let you down, you took it out on me, that that was unfair and you wanted to really work on that.

I had been trying to keep more of a distance, not being as excited and as open to spending all of our time together as you had insisted up to that point. A week before the holiday, a year to this day, you grumbled to me saying “So, am I going to see you next weekend? Are you coming with me to the beach?”

I had been surprised but pleased that you wanted me to join you. I thought about it for a bit and then said, sure, I would join you. You were relieved and happy and we made plans. When that Friday rolled around, I let you know my brother with disabilities whom you had invited in the past was able to join us. When you immediately called me instead of texting me a simple confirmation, I knew something was up.

You said that your daughter was now coming to the beach. I said that’s great. You said maybe it’s better if I stayed home.

I was floored. I know, I know, John. I shouldn’t be. By now – you’d really, really think that I had your number and I could guess that whenever you could turn something nice and absolutely normal into something terrible and rotten, you would. But in that painful moment, I still had the blinders on.

Maybe it was because my brother was disabled and you and your daughter didn’t want to be around someone who was disabled. Perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered if anyone else would have been joining you.

After some very recent conversations I’ve had, I’m also thinking it could very well be that you told some pretty nifty untruths to me about your daughter, and some pretty nasty things about me to her and you couldn’t afford to have us compare notes.

I told you, flabbergasted, “John, it’s Memorial Day. I have my family, you have yours, let’s enjoy it. Let’s have a good time! What is the problem? Why are you acting like this?!”

You started a vitriolic and venomous verbal attack, saying you now hated me and that my brother and I should stay the hell home. Stupidly, I continued to try and text you kind and loving things, but you started calling me mean names and cursed me out. In response to anything kind I said to you, you would lash out something derogatory and abusive.

You told me how I ignored your ex-cousin the other evening when he was over your house. I told you I hadn’t realized who he was because you never introduced me to contractors (well, your workers employed by your company who did work over your house and whom you paid through your company instead of out of your own pocket) or your neighbors. This was an ex-family member whom I know hurt some of your real family members pretty badly. But in either case, I just didn’t know who he was at the time. I also had an extremely sick dog who was bleeding while eliminating waste, and I was trying to take care of her. You had also said you had wanted to go for a bike ride that evening and I was trying to get everything ready for that so you wouldn’t lose your temper.

When you told me that I had behaved so terribly to this former family member, I texted your former cousin by marriage, Marty, in the afternoon, and I apologized to him. I asked him to have dinner, because I thought if we went out together you would be happier and see that everything was fine and no harm was done. My text was misunderstood and he said he would want you to be there. I called him back immediately in order to tell him that was exactly what I meant – for all of us to go out to eat when we were all in town. During our entire relationship you kept talking about wanting to go out to dinner with Marty, and would always send him pictures of the meals. So I thought it would be a positive thing to connect. I didn’t want anyone to think I was trying to meet them without you.

However, the oddest thing happened instead. An extraordinarily intoxicated woman answered the phone. Slurring her words, I tried hard to understand what it was she was saying. She started yelling at me but I couldn’t make out most of what she was saying. I tried to be very calm and clear, letting her know I just wanted to ask everyone out to dinner and I had wanted to clarify my text messages. But she said things to me that indicated you had really done a number on me behind my back with Marty, and said some very untrue and just plain schoolyard bullying mean. I listened to her politely, trying to figure out where she was coming from and what she was saying. I ended very politely and still kept the invitation open.

That was Memorial Day last year: hearing from your deeply intoxicated friends whom you consider family over your real relatives, having you and your daughter banning my brother with disabilities from visiting, and being told “I hate you” – for absolutely no reason at all.

So this year, I’m saying no to abuse and being berated by alcoholics and shunned by people uncomfortable with anyone who is different.

One less problem without you,

Maryland Statutes 3-802, 803, 804, and 805

Dear John,

Last fall, another layer of your bullying surfaced. Even though you had emphatically said that she was a terrible mother and didn’t ever want to spend time with her child, that she carried on an affair in front of your nose with her young child in your own house, that I would be such a good influence instead on your daughter because her mother and her mother’s friends were not, and that she was literally dying right now of an illness and when people asked how you felt about the fact she was going to die you said you didn’t give a shit, somehow I began receiving threatening and harassing communication on your behalf from your wife, communications that praised you and told me how you are the best father in the world. I of course found that a little odd since one would assume she would think the current father of her children would be number one in her eyes, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there. What is here and now is that you enlisted others to continue bullying me when I stopped communicating with you.
You know, I actually quadruple-checked the nature and character of your treatment of me. Legally, it is domestic violence. Everything that you admitted and subsequently apologized for and said you were ashamed of (I recognize now that this is the pattern of abusive partners) and begged me to take you back and not leave you over — it is legally defined as domestic abuse. Somehow my speaking truth about what happened – how my vulnerabilities, my friends, my family, your family were used against me, how the lying, the verbal violence and obscenities, the manipulation, the physical intimidation cut me badly – somehow your disordered mind concluded that my speaking out about these experiences so I could heal deserved not remorse or sadness on your part — but, well, another criminal act levied against me. Suddenly the woman whom you said carried on affairs under your nose is harassing me on your behalf. That makes either your story or hers yet another lie. Or it makes you the biggest cuckold in the history of civilized matrimony.
Because of the escalating nature of the behavior of the woman whom you said Brianna told you “had made a mistake in leaving you and wished she were still with you,” I was forced to file police reports with the Howard County Police Department (T14001351) and the Washington, DC, police, since the criminal behavior took place at both my home and my workplace.

After hearing the facts of the case, the DC police urged me to go to the Domestic Abuse department on Indiana Avenue to request a civil protection order. Of course, one of the officers, bless his soul, also said that it sounded like you recruited someone else to deal with matters you should take care of yourself because you weren’t a real man. He was shocked when I told him you were a 53 year old engaging in this behavior. I never filed that protection order because not only was your wife implicated in this, but your daughter was as well and I did not want to have to include her in a restraining order. Both, however, had to be put on the no-admittance list of my office building.

I was grateful at how seriously my employer and HR department took this situation, after they also heard the facts of the matter and saw the evidence: Rodino, V – Security Ltr 1014.
My union representatives and lawyers and my employer’s health and safety committee also supported me during this continued nightmare.

My attorneys in Maryland and DC strongly recommended a cease and desist letter to your wife and her employer, since all of her harassment went through her work email and office phone lines.

From: Virginia Rodino
Date: October 12, 2014, 7:49:48 AM EDT” <>,  “” <>
Subject: Cease and Desist Any and All Communication

Angel/Annjalenna/Angie/Angela Kirchhoff/Narron:

Do not communicate nor attempt to contact me in any form: email,
phone, traditional mail, social networking sites, blogs, or any other

Do not approach me or attempt to communicate with me in person at
either my home in Columbia, MD, nor my work in Washington, DC, nor any
other location.

Do not try to communicate with me through any other person, including
your daughter Brianna Narron or your ex-spouse John Victor Narron or
any other individual.

Do not attempt to communicate – either through mediated form or
in-person – any of my family members or coworkers.

Your behavior thus far is tantamount to harassment and stalking and
any additional attempts of contact will also be considered as such.

Respectfully yours,

October 10, 2014

Dear Mr. Nagle and Mr. Zaller,

I am writing to respectfully request the ceasing and desisting of harassment and cyberstalking by one of your employees, Ms. Annjalenna Kirchhoff.

Over the past two weeks, beginning on September 24, 2014, Ms. Kirchhoff has threatened and harassed me from your firm’s e-mail address:, as well as called me at my place of work, misusing email and telephone (Title 3, Subtitle 8, Statutes 3-804, 3-805). She specifically detailed how she visits the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., every Wednesday because of her work assignments for your firm, and that she would find me in my office on that day of the week if I did not interact with her for personal reasons having to do with her ex-spouse Mr. John V. Narron. She claims in writing to have called my supervisors, with the intent to harm my employment status, and has even gone so far as to reference my autistic brother in her threats to “stop at nothing” to gain contact with me.

Using your firm’s email address, she has signed up to a personal blog I write on domestic abuse and emotional violence, has attempted to spam my blog with comments during business hours, has emailed me repeatedly on my employer’s email: during business hours, has called me on my employer-issued landline and employer-issued cell number during and after business hours, and just today has attempted to contact me through the social networking site Linked In.

While the nature of Ms. Kirchhoff’s harassment is over a personal matter, because it took place over your firm’s e-mail, during business hours, and utilized Ms. Kirchhoff’s position in your law firm to contribute to the intimidation, I am requesting that you instruct her to cease and desist all emails and phone calls from your office (and elsewhere), and that your firm instructs Ms. Kirchhoff NOT to visit me at any time at my place of work in Washington, DC, nor my home in Columbia, MD – as Ms. Kirchhoff has threatened to do while on work assignment for your firm.

Mr. Nagle and Mr. Zaller: The harassment was successful in its intended consequences, as I am extremely distressed –intimidated and fearful of the extent to which Ms. Kirchhoff has threatened to go. I have taken sick days from work, did not schedule a regular monthly visit by my autistic brother this month, and had to have emergency visits with my therapist because of the anxiety caused by her illegal activity.

In response to the threats, intimidation, and harassment, I have alerted my employer’s Human Resources Director, my employer’s outside counsel Bredhoff & Kaiser, P.L.L.C., my direct supervisors, my staff union (OPEIU Local 2) president and counsel, and the OPEIU-SEIU joint Health and Safety Committee.

My employer, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), has advised me on how to block Ms. Kirchhoff’s harassing emails and phone calls, and placed Ms. Kirchhoff, Ms. Kirchhoff’s daughter, and Ms. Kirchhoff’s ex-spouse on a no-admittance list with the security firm in the Washington, DC, building in which I work. The SEIU has allowed me to work outside of the building until security measures were in place at the building.

I have filed a harassment and stalking report with the Howard County Police (Report # 14-101126) and have reported all of her behavior to the District of Columbia Police as well, citing the emails coming from your firm’s email address, her intent to find me at my place of employment, and her repeated calls to my landline and cell phone. The DC police officers who came to my office building to take down the information told me that because of the nature of cyberstalking and cyberharassment, the report taken by the MD police covers her behavior across state lines, and they have taken note of the harassment situation.

I am requesting that Ms. Kirchhoff stop contacting me in any shape or form: email, cell phone, landline calls, in-person visits, social networking sites, blogs, and any other vehicle of communication. I am fearful for my safety and the safety of my family and coworkers.

I look forward to your response.

Respectfully yours,

Virginia Rodino


John: perhaps it’s not a good idea to continue giving out my work number to your family members.



The Difference

Dear John,

We’ve all had breakups. Some are more dramatic than others. Sometimes the timing isn’t right. Sometimes the shine wears off and the partnership just stagnates. Sometimes there wasn’t a partnership to begin with and the coupling is too uneven.

Some breakups sting, some bruise… some don’t even register.

There is a difference when abuse has taken place – and bless those people who recognized that from the start, those who recognized it wasn’t about “just not getting along” or “not being into it anymore” or “not wanting to put the work into it.”

Fitting analogies are hard to come by. Separating oneself from an abusive partner and looking back at the unnecessary trauma is like looking into no other rearview mirror.

I always found the work of a relationship a joy. It is rewarding to me: like going to college, being an active citizen, earning a living doing honest work.

Yet being in a relationship with a narcissist who twists up your world, lies to you, puts you down, and forces you to your knees… is like going to college… but being hazed when you try to join a club. It’s like dutifully participating in all aspects of civic life, but constantly pulled over and issued citations when you’re driving perfectly legally, or put in jail for the night for smiling too broadly or brushing your hair to the wrong side. It’s like enthusiastically getting up to go to work every day because you respect your employer and like the purpose of your work — and then your boss turns on you, assailing you with fictitious performance complaints, threatening you with discipline or termination… for caring about your work and being a loyal employee.

In each of these comparisons, the environment DOES NOT have to be hostile. The environment can be nurturing, supportive, pleasurable. We are doing hard work, but it’s good work, rewarding and fulfilling.

So what disorder compels someone to shove down others instead of lift them up? What dysfunction dictates a role that hurts and batters rather than cares? What compulsion drives one to such a level of dishonesty to himself and others that he has himself convinced this is the way a real man should treat another?

Surviving narcissistic abuse is not a resume builder. It forces on those who’ve survived a dark glimpse of how ugly and confused the core of another can be. There’s no pitying the abuser for not being able to truly open their heart to others who care – because the narcissist doesn’t think like that. The narcissist doesn’t feel the same that those without the disorder feel. The narcissist just moves on to the next crop of “supply” – as one psychologist terms it – or the next victim, as one friend of mine describes it. And it’s sad for the new supply and it’ll be devastating to the next victim, but the narcissist? Well, he just moves on. There’s no guilt, sadness, or remorse for the trail of people he has abused, screamed at, lied to, lied about, harassed, threatened, manipulated. He just needs a new source, someone to give him attention, provide him with a spotlight until they believe he really cares and will reciprocate in kind to their acts of kindness and care.

And once he knows they believe that, once they’ve laid down natural barriers and caution and gifted him with their trust: poof…he’s gone.

The difference is that the survivor of narcissistic   abuse has been lied to, lied about, manipulated, made to doubt her own wits and intelligence, her own self. That along with being cursed at, screamed at, physically intimidated, prevented from doing things she wants to do and forced to do things she doesn’t – all that is different from your run-of-the-mill breakup.

Kudos to all who understand this difference and continue to support.


Sharing Some Insight…

Dear John,

It’s not the easiest thing to distinguish among the acts that fall under passive-aggressiveness, bi-polarism, narcissistic abuse, or just plain meanness, but here are some posts that I’m sharing because they exactly describe of the type of behavior that had me bewildered and crushed — and while I tried very hard to believe your excuses for the behavior, and then moved on to make up my own excuses for when you treated me this way, I know now that whatever it’s called, and whatever illness or issue it falls under, all that really matters is that it sucked.


It was unnecessary.

It was cruel.

And I know I never want to be treated this way again.

First, we have “Love Bombing by a Narccissist” explained – (this is totally what happened, John – what a naive schmuck I was to be so duped!!)

Common Lies of Love Bombing

Narc Speak:

  • I can’t believe I’ve finally found you.
  • I’ve never felt so comfortable in someone’s company before.
  • No one understands me like you do.
  • You’re the most beautiful woman (or man) I’ve ever seen.
  • You have the most attractive __________ (eyes, hair, body shape, smile, dimples).
  • My Ex was a psycho, drug addict, alcoholic, schizoid, cheater, etc.
  • You’re the best girlfriend I’ve ever had.
  • I think I love you.  I think I want to marry you.
  • I never got married before because I haven’t found the right person yet.
  • We have so much in common.
  • He/she pressures you into becoming intimate in a short amount of time.

Deciphering the Lies

Wikipedia defines Love Bombing as an attempt to influence a person by lavish demonstrations of attention and affection.  It’s a manipulative tactic used commonly by cult leaders and abusive predators in romantic or other intimate relationships.  Its purpose is to override the target’s critical thinking skills so that the abuser can control and manipulate.

Love is the most sought after human need.  So, when a target receives an overwhelming amount of love and acceptance, it’s very hard to analyze the reasons ‘why’ for fear of losing what they’ve desperately been longing for.  In due course, the target becomes blindly dependent on their abuser; all while being hammered into submission.


Love Bombing includes not only the above phrases, but also over-the-top gestures of attention.  This plays out in the form of constant calls and text messages, gifts, flowers, invites to meet his family, requests to move in together, and splashing your social media sites with cutesy, flirty messages.  Of course, these are all behaviors of people who are courting one another…but not after one date.

In predatory terms, it’s called going in for the kill.  So how can you detect when this is happening and avoid becoming a Narcissist’s target?  Let’s examine the step-by-step process from the Narcissist’s point of view:

First, they have lost their previous source of supply.  Either their former partner left or the Narcissist is in the discard phase of the previous relationship.  Since narcs cannot function independently, they experience an urgent need to replace their partner.  This is why you will find them with a new companion in a very short amount of time.  Sadly, victims who’ve been discarded suffer very low self-esteem when they discover their abuser has found someone new, when the fact is, the Narc has love-bombed a fresh candidate in order to secure a new source of livelihood.  Don’t be fooled by the imaginary happiness of the Narc with his new supply.  Narcs don’t view people as individuals.  They view them in terms of whether or not they will be reliable supply.

Next, the Narcissist will appear to be an exact mirror of the new target, which in this case is you.  Narcs don’t possess a fundamental inner-self, so they mimic that of their potential supply.  This explains why they appear to be soul-mate material.  The truth of the matter, though, is that the Narcissist targets people with positive energy, a good job, resources, intelligence, and the like.  They couldn’t care less about you as a person.  See how this is a recurring theme?

Lastly, a true connection with a potential partner is made through getting to know someone and creating a meaningful friendship.  No one falls in love in three days.  But, the energy it takes to secure new supply is exhausting, so the Narcissist wants to ensure his efforts pay off in as little time as possible.  Instant gratification is the game…and you’re it.

It’s important to note that these statements could very well be made by partners in a genuine relationship.  However, there should be an element of balance.  If you experience these phrases one on top of the other, especially right after meeting them, it’s overkill and should be a warning flag.  A relationship with a Narcissist is based on deceit.  The love and affection aren’t real, and they will never be.  At least, not from their side.  The only time you will witness these desired behaviors is when the Narcissist thinks you might leave.  You’ll also discover that when you’re back under his control, he becomes his true self again…an abusive, lying cult leader with you as his devoted disciple.

Healing from a Narcissistic Abuser

When you first met the Narcissist, he or she spent a great deal of time observing you and your thoughts, doubts, insecurities, and weaknesses.  They may have mirrored those feelings in an attempt to give you a feeling of closeness and comradery.  You finally felt accepted, believing you’d found a partner who would love you unconditionally, until…

Once they determined you were in love with them the novelty wore off and they became bored.  This boredom caused them to begin to look for so-called flaws in you.  Since none were readily apparent, they fell back to your struggles you shared with them during moments of intimacy and kindredness.  This often happens after you begin to notice inconsistencies in their behavior, which forces them to attack you, taking the focus off of them and their inability to keep up the charade.

Narcissists don’t know love, so your attempt at trying to solve problems in the relationship comes across to them as a personal attack.  They resolve to beat you to the punch.  Thus begins the devalue stage, and is usually when they begin searching for a new target.  However, accepting a grain of accountability would throw off their false persona, so the new driving force in their life is to make YOU believe you’re the reason for their withdrawing their love and affection.  Enter your previous confessions of insecurity and feeling betrayed in the past by friends, family, and/or ex-lovers.

…. it’s important to rely on facts as opposed to what your abuser says.  He or she is simply exploiting your emotional wounds, most of which likely developed during childhood (which is often out of your conscious awareness) and/or as a result of an emotionally traumatizing event (such as previous emotional abuse).  These wounds typically manifest in the following ways:

  • Heightened fear of abandonment
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Inability to process strong emotions
  • Inability to trust other people
  • Perpetually being in “fight-or-flight” mode
  • Being triggered by random stimuli that you subconsciously associate with a traumatic memory

These symptoms are rooted in false beliefs one has about their worth based on past emotional trauma and are the reason you feel less-than.  They are then intensified by the Narcissist’s cruel interjections that their new partner [or life without you] is better than [life with] you.  However, I like to point out that most everything the Narcissist says is a lie, including the comments they make during attacks on your character and appearance.  However, because we’ve internalized harmful messages about who we are from a young age, it’s easy to believe the Narcissist when they deal devastating verbal blows.

Part of healing from Narcissistic abuse includes reframing your beliefs based on reality rather than limiting beliefs you may hold based on how you’ve been treated.  Just because the Narcissist says you’re unattractive or unworthy of respect doesn’t make it true.  These are erroneous beliefs we hold due to negative conditioning, or our internalized story of self.

Erroneous thinking examined

I work with victims of Narcissistic abuse every day.  The things I’ve observed about them are in direct contrast to what they often believe about themselves.

Replacing old emotional habits with healthier ways of thinking, feeling, behaving, and relating to others begins with taking control of your emotional health.  A great way to start is by taking steps to heal your inner child, who has suffered greatly as a result of your relationship with the Narcissist.

In closing…. It’s important to understood that his leaving you was likely due to your discovery of his false image and not anything related to you.  Additionally, it’s important to remember [that any] new partner is being love-bombed by the Narcissist, otherwise she wouldn’t willingly enter into a relationship with them.  Moreover, you should acknowledge you are enough…just the way you are.  But, in order for it to be true, you have to believe it.

And lastly, from “12 Signs You’re Too Passive Aggressive“:

1. Unwilling to speak your truth openly, kindly and honestly when asked for your opinion or when asked to do something for someone. How this shows up in communication is being “assertively unassertive.” You say “Yes” (assertive) when you really mean “No way” (unassertive). Then, you let your behavior say “No way” for you. People become confused and mistrusting of you.

2. Appearing sweet, compliant and agreeable, but are really resentful, angry, petty and envious underneath. You are living with pairs of opposites within, and that is making those around you annoyed and confused.

3. Afraid of being alone and equally afraid of being dependent. This is the case of “I hate you. Don’t leave me.” You fear direct communication because you fear rejection. You then often push away the people you care about because you don’t want to seem in need of support. All the while, you are afraid of being alone and want to control those around you so they won’t leave you. Very confusing!

4. Complaining that others treat you unfairly frequently. Rather than taking responsibility for stepping up and speaking your truth, you set yourself up as the (innocent) victim. You say others are hard on you, unfair, unreasonable and excessively demanding.

5. Procrastinating frequently, especially on things you do for others. One way of controlling others is to make them wait. You have lots of excuses why you haven’t been able to get things done. You even blame others for why that is so. It’s amazingly unreasonable, but you do it even though it destroys relationship, damages careers, loses friendships and jobs. And, you tell others how justified you are in being angry because, once again, others treated you unfairly.

6. Unwilling to give a straight answer. Another way of controlling others is to send mixed messages, ones that leave the other person completely unclear about your thoughts, plans or intentions. Then, you make them feel wrong when you tell them that what they took from your communication was not what you meant. Silly them!

7. Sulking, withdrawing and pouting. You complain that others are unreasonable and lacking in empathy when they expect you to live up to your promises, obligations, or duties. Passive-aggressive women favor the silent treatment as an expression of their contempt. Passive-aggressive men prefer the deep sigh and shake of the head, while walking away.  Both expressions say “You poor confused person. You’re not worth talking to.” when the real reason for their behavior is that they have not, cannot, or will not take responsibility for their own behavior.

8. Frequently feeling inadequate but covering it up with superiority, disdain or hostile passivity. Whether you set yourself up to be a self-sabotaging failure — “Why do you have such unrealistic expectations of me?” or a tyrant or goddess incapable of anything less than perfection, “To whom do you think you are speaking, peon?” you are shaking in your boots from fear of competition and being found out as less than perfect. (P.S. You likely picked this one up in childhood!)

9. Often late and/or forgetful. One way of driving people away is to be thoughtless, inconsiderate and infuriating. And, then, to put the cherry on top, you suggest that it’s unrealistic to expect you to arrive on time, or, in your words, “think of everything.” Being chronically late is disrespectful of others. Supposedly forgetting to do what you have agreed to do is simply demonstrating your lack of trustworthiness. Who wants to be around that for long?

10. Dragging your feet to frustrate others. Again, a control move somewhat like procrastinating, but the difference is you begin and appear as though you are doing what you said you would do. But, you always have an excuse why you cannot continue or complete the task. You won’t even say when it will be —or even might be — done.

11. Making up stories, excuses and lies. You are the master of avoidance of the straight answer. You’ll go to great lengths to tell a story, withhold information, or even withhold love and affirmation in your primary relationships. It seems that if you let folks think you like them too much, that would be giving them power. You’d rather be in control by creating a story that seems plausible, gets them off your back, and makes reality look better from your viewpoint.

12. Constantly protecting yourself so no one will know how afraid you are of being inadequate, imperfect, left, dependent or simply human.


October: Pumpkins, Leaves, and…

Dear John,

“People tend to overlook the fact that domestic violence can go beyond being physical too. Domestic violence can entail other means of abuse from a partner in order to manipulate, demoralize, strike fear, threaten, harm, or seek vengeance on the other.”

Apparently about twenty distinct acts of “psychological aggression” or mental and emotional abuse have been put into three different categories by the experts.

Here they are, along with colorful examples provided by our relationship:

1. Verbal aggression (all those times you cursed at me, like banging on the steering wheel and screaming at the top of your lungs that “I’ll never fucking make that mistake again” when I told you I didn’t have enough time to take you to your physical therapy session in the morning because you didn’t tell me that was what I had to do; or if I told you I couldn’t go to a train station, I had to go to a Metro station and you wanted to drop me off sooner; screaming at me that I “had an attitude” about dozens and dozens of perceived “wrongdoings” as I sat in shocked silence, having no idea why you were blowing up; screaming at me that you were miserable because no one knew we were together at your brother’s house party because I got up to mingle with the other guests, mocking me when I told you I went off to admire the landscaping and hammock at your brother’s house – yet dropping my hand like hotcakes if your daughter walked into the room and saw us; yelling at me in front of others at your place of work when I excitedly came to pick you up for a Redskins’ game in my vehicle instead of driving your car; screaming at me in the hotel how you will never forgive me if I “didn’t let you” go out drinking and smoking with a guy you just met after you told me we would go out alone to “reconnect”; general name-calling like “crazy,” “bitch,” “slut,” “fatal attraction,” “weird,” and a lot of “Fuck you’s”…); screaming at me in the parking lot that I was dressed indecently the time I helped drag old planks of fencing from under your mother’s deck in Ocean City and was bending over in loose shorts – I’m guessing because I don’t remember what I wore; referring to me as a slut because of a dress I wore a year ago that you had admired at the time; screaming “Why don’t you take your own fucking car” outside of my house after my dog jumped onto the front seat of your truck, then when I shut down because I was so tired and sad at getting yelled at so much and having my dog yelled at, you screamed again at me that you were done with me because I wasn’t talking with you and threatened to drive me back two hours to my house instead of to Ocean City where we were headed to meet up with my friends; yelling at me for ignoring your daughter at another family party when in fact I had stood up to give her a hug and say hi and she ignored me completely, deliberately stepping inches past me to say hi to everyone around me, and when I told you what happened you didn’t believe me, and later defended that rudeness and blamed me; screaming at me if a text message or an email came in and my phone made a noise – even though you were constantly on your phone and I could never ask you to turn yours off or take a break for dinner or quiet time;

Dodged bullet bird

2. Dominant behaviors (deliberately sabotaging and preventing me from having happy or healthy relationships with your friends or family – berating me that I wasn’t doing enough, frowning if it seemed that I had become friends with anyone in your family; becoming furious with me and shutting down at dinner when I talked on the phone with a friend about a car they just helped me buy two months into our relationship, saying you hoped next time I would go to you for help instead; scream at me over the phone when you chose to go to the beach one weekend and I had to stay home for a work meeting, but you thought I had also gone out to see a friend who was visiting from Philadelphia, telling me it was an ultimatum and that if I continued to be friends with her that our relationship would not work out; yelling time and time and time again how you couldn’t imagine the thought of “the woman you love” going to see my friends’ band on a regular basis, giving me an ultimatum of you or the band if I continued to see them, asking why don’t I pick another band that was “our band” and not just “my band,” screaming at the top of your lungs over the phone that you didn’t love me anymore if I told you I was going to see them; refusing to pick up the phone or return messages if I did something to displease you; telling me “too bad” and that you were “now busy” if you became irate over something I “did to you” and you would proceed to break whatever plans we had had and then you would later tell me how you went out until 4 a.m. to the casino to “pick up a sistah” or you went to a cigar bar to be with “the hotties” who worked there or stay at home and smoke and watch “Desperate Housewives of Atlanta in Lingerie” instead; scream at me that on Friday nights you did not want to do anything but “be with the woman I love,” have a nice dinner and relax because you had such a busy work week and I don’t understand because my work was never as important or difficult – if I ever asked to go and do something with you on a Friday that you didn’t want to do – but when you would feel like going to a bar or a casino, or out with others – you suddenly had all the energy in the world and could go all night; making repeated demands to try and force me to do sexual things after we just had a major fight where you were emotionally abusive and I was still reeling, and it turned out it would always be right before you would break up again, unbeknownst to me; grabbing me so hard it left bruises on my arm in order to throw me out of the house; picking up my dog off his feet and throwing him out of the house; shouting at the top of your lungs when we were driving to a weekend getaway that I had planned and paid for and I asked to change the radio station because it was too much static and you had it up too loudly on purpose, after you had said that the car ride itself was supposed to be romantic – when I suggested we drive separately because you were going to be late as usual – but then you blasted a football game and we didn’t talk, and you blew up when I said we should find something we both want to hear and the static was driving me nuts, so you threw a CD furiously to the back of the car, told me you didn’t have much love for me anymore and said when you got to our place you were going to stay in and drink wine that you had brought; always always insisted on being late to or forgetting anything I planned – but demonstrated that you could plan to be on time or very early for the things you wanted to do: for example, you were pretty diligent when we first started dating and were thoughtful and normal about meeting as planned, dinners with your daughter, although you would end up coming back, heading to a bar and drinking, and then taking it out on me by finding something to yell at me about if she “bailed” on you; golf outings; fishing trips; football games; work meetings – every other adult responsibility in life you seemed to be able to understand why it was reasonable to expect someone would remember or be on time for, but I was yelled at and berated at having that expectation of respect;

dodged bullet yoda

3. Jealous behaviors (screamed at me at a dance club that 20-year olds were flirting with me, even though you were directly in front of me and I was not flirting with anyone but enjoying the music, but since you thought no one in the place could tell we were dating, including the band that was playing, you blamed me for not paying enough attention to you; come to me in anger after you would break up with me, grilling me to find out if I had been with anyone else while we were broken up; scream at me about relationships I had had years before I even met you, yelling at me that I should have told you about them).

dodged bullet sign

The U.S. Department of Justice defines emotionally abusive traits as including causing fear by: intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends, destruction of pets and property, forcing isolation from family, friends, or school or work.[8] Subtler emotionally abusive tactics include insults, putdowns, arbitrary and unpredictable inconsistency, and gaslighting (the denial that previous abusive incidents occurred). Modern technology has led to new forms of abuse, by text messaging and online cyber-bullying.

Davis writes: “Remember domestic violence is not a phase; it will recur if it is not stopped. It is a crime. Everyone has the right to live without fear of violence or abuse from her or his partner. The abuser is responsible for the behavior, the abused is not to blame, the abuser made the choice to become violent.

“Be patient with the person being abused. Your impatience comes across as more abuse. Sometimes it takes a while for a person to realize that abuse is occurring. Remember, abuse is not always physical; it is often emotional and mental. When it is physical it may not be hitting, it may be shoving or grabbing. It is always intended to intimidate and it will escalate over time.”

Thanks, Chris, for your simple little IM the other day. It stuck with me. I certainly didn’t look as cool as Neo doing it, but I indeed missed a big one.

Matrix Bullets Dodging with Action Styles 24208wall.jpg


Wait…Did I Write That?

john texttext john

Dear John,

Even when you screamed at me that you drank “to excess”, that you were arrested for DUI in Ocean City, that you missed drinking with your brother who had to quit completely because he was spending too many weekends in jail, that you found empty beer cans when we were cleaning out your daughter’s car and that “wasn’t good”, that your cousin said that there was a drinking problem that ran in the family, that you said I couldn’t go here or there with you because you wanted to get drunk instead, and on and on and on… I never ever said that I wanted you to stop drinking. Never.

What I wanted you to do was stop treating me so terribly — and it wasn’t taking any rocket scientist to see that your drinking and actually your not drinking and going through withdrawal was causing your mood swings to become more and more cruel and uncontrollable. As I said before, my therapist was the one who asked me if you had a drinking problem, and I said no. I did not think it because you were so high functioning. But things continued to deteriorate. You would leave your pot bags out for me to find and I would try to hide them back in boxes and drawers when contractors were over, but you kept pulling them back out for me to see. I never said a word about them, just kept trying to hide it from visitors.

Whether or not your emotional violence was caused by substance abuse or alcohol dependency is just an educated guess — from me, my therapist, our couples therapist. But I wouldn’t have cared if only you wouldn’t have changed.

So continues the healing process from the trauma. Several people who have gone through abusive relationships as we have also write blogs and began following this one. Today I was sent a post that succinctly lays out exactly what happened between us and eloquently details the codependency-narcissism death dance I’ve spoken about previously. I’m reposting Kim Saeed’s writing here because of how thoroughly fitting it is for us.

Signs You Might Be a Trauma-Bonded Co-Dependent (and what to do about it)

One of the most difficult challenges in working with victims of Narcissistic abuse is helping them see that they are not responsible for their abuser’s actions, behaviors, cruelty, or consequences that arise out of said partner’s bad choices.  The next most common occurrence is victims not being able to decide if their partner is a Narcissist, or just a jerk.

With rare exception, those who reach out for help in escaping their abusive partner feel responsible for every bad thing that ever transpired in the toxic relationship.  They doubt themselves, they continually wonder if there’s something they could have done differently, and they come to me with unbearable feelings of guilt, humiliation, and shame.  This is all due to the Narcissist projecting their shame onto the victim, as well as having been the target of abusive, exploitative conditioning.

When something goes wrong in the Narcissist’s life, or he or she becomes angry, the victim is made to believe it’s their fault.  (i.e., “You should have told me my car was low on gas!  I was late to work again and put on probation!  It’s all your fault!).  Or, victims feel not good enough, smart enough, or attractive enough due to cruel statements made by their abusive partner.  (“I never loved you.  You were just here to pass the time”; “You were never good enough for me.  I just kept you around as a maid”; “Everyone is always saying they cannot believe I’m with someone like you”).  Over time, the victim internalizes these statements, and believes there’s something wrong with them.

Even worse, they begin to resign themselves to a life of accepting abuse based on these false beliefs.

A person who doesn’t have co-dependent tendencies wouldn’t stay in such a relationship very long.  On the other hand, a person who scores high in codependent traits would not only stay in the relationship, but do everything in their power to avoid displeasing the Narcissist.  Many victims will allow their careers go to waste, cut off friends and family, stop practicing their favorite activities/hobbies, and live as an extension of the Narcissist.

Often, victims will defend their partner’s cruelty with limiting statements such as, “He had a difficult childhood”, “She’s had a hard life because she was abused by her Ex”, “He or she really seems to want to change”, “Only losers give up”, “If God brings you to it, He’ll get you through it”.  These beliefs (in context of the abusive relationship) all enable the abuser to continue their abuse and only lead to negative consequences for the victim.

They’re also signs of trauma-bonding and self-defeating beliefs of people with enabling personality traits.  Those aren’t labels to be interpreted in a negative way.  They are both defense mechanisms that result from being emotionally abused and most often stem from not feeling loved during one’s formative years, usually from birth up to age seven.  Typically, this is because one parent was codependent themselves, and the other had exploitative traits.  Since abusers always maintain the upper hand, codependents learn early on that they can only receive “love” and “acceptance” through what they can provide for the abusive parent.  Further, the codependent parent spent all their energy trying to avoid the abuser’s rage and displeasure, so there was little left to give to any children involved.  So, not only did the child(ren) not receive the nurturing they so needed, they learned how to avoid the wrath of the manipulative parent.  (This is a general scenario, and not comprehensive).

Codependents can go through life without ever realizing they are, in fact, codependent.  This usually comes out as “being too nice”, being overly forgiving, always turning the other cheek, or doing more for other people than for oneself.  It’s only after pairing with an emotional abuser, such as a Narcissist, that codependent traits are brought to the surface in full force.

Am I a trauma-bonded codependent?

If the following examples apply to you, you have been the target of emotional/Narcissistic abuse, trauma-bonding (think Stockholm syndrome), having your childhood wounds exploited, and acting from cognitive dissonance, which means your partner is an emotional predator/cluster-B disordered individual (such as a narcissist/psychopath/sociopath/anti-social)

  • You feel you can’t leave your partner, even though the relationship or marriage is extremely toxic for you
  • You feel powerless over your future
  • You have sleeping difficulties (too much or too little) and eating problems (not having an appetite, which leads to weight loss, or emotional eating, leading to weight gain)
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Easily startled or over-reactive to everyday situations
  • You check your cell phone every two or three minutes (for messages from your partner)
  • You rarely go outside the home because there’s usually a price to pay, or if you do go out, there’s always a deep sense of urgency to get back home as quickly as possible
  • You’ve stopped going out due to the above, and/or because you’ve lost interest in life
  • No matter the contributions and sacrifices you’ve made for the relationship, you feel you haven’t done enough
  • You’ve developed OCD tendencies since you’ve been with your partner, or you might exhibit behaviors that mimic bipolar disorder (which are really symptoms that developed due to emotional trauma)
  • You experience panic attacks, fear leaving your home, have nightmares, experience extremely high emotions, frequently relive past abuse (all symptoms of PTSD and/or C-PTSD , which are psychological injuries)
  • You hide your partner’s cruelty and abuse and/or lie to friends and family about your reality
  • You tend to accept accountability for the bad things that happen in your partner’s life and feel the need to fix their problems…always
  • You doubt yourself and/or your sanity. Believe you might be “the crazy one”
  • Feel a relentless need to give your abusive partner the benefit of the doubt – always to your detriment
  • You don’t want to say “No” or stand up for yourself because you don’t want them to think you’re mean or unwilling to make compromises (although they are repeatedly mean to you and unwilling to be flexible)

These signs are by no means comprehensive.  They are merely the most common concerns I hear from clients, as well as victims who’ve left comments across the forums.  If the above list sounds like your life, your partner is a disordered, emotional abuser and has no chance of changing.

The good news is you can.  You can overcome your feelings of low self-esteem, hopelessness, powerlessness, and all those icky, self-defeating beliefs that were implanted in your psyche by the people who exploited you over the years, even as far back as childhood.

But, it all starts with going No Contact. Going No Contact is hard, and things will get worse before they get better.  But, the payoff is so worth it…a life without abuse; a life that you can enjoy; a life where you can find a truly loving partner.

Thanks to Ms. Saeed for speaking so eloquently about my life and the experiences of so many others.

Seeking peace,