Archives for October 2012

The Gift of Fear/The Curse of Anxiety

Is it Fear Or Is it Anxiety?

Women who have been in pathological relationships come away from the relationships with problems associated with fear, worry, and anxiety.This is often related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or what we call ‘High Harm Avoidance’– being on high alert looking for ways she might get harmed now or in the future.

PTSD, by it’s own nature as a disorder, is an anxiety disorder that is preoccupied by both the past (flashbacks and intrusive thoughts of him or events) and by the future (worry about future events, trying to anticipate his behaviors, etc.). With long term exposure to PTSD, this anxiety and worry begins to mask itself, at least in her mind, as ‘fear.’ In fact, most women lump together the sensations of anxiety, worry, and fear into one feeling and don’t differientiate them.

Fear is helpful and safety-oriented whereas worry and anxiety are not helpful and related to phantom ‘possible’ events that often don’t happen. To that degree, worry and anxiety are distracting away from real fear signals that could help her.

In the book which is now a classic on predicting harmful behavior in others, Gavin deBecker in ‘The Gift of Fear’ delineates the difference between what we need fear FOR and what we DONT need anxiety and worry for. In some ways, the ability to use fear correctly while stopping the use of anxiety and worry may do much to curtail PTSD symptoms.

deBecker who is not a therapist but a Danger Anaylst has done what other therapists haven’t even done–nix PTSD symptoms of anxiety and worry by focusing on true fear and it’s necessity versus anxiety and it’s faux meaning to us.

The term fear was used by Freud (in contrast to anxiety), to refer to the reaction to  real danger. Freud emphasized the difference between fear and anxiety in terms of their relation to danger:

~ Anxiety is a state characterized by the expectation and preparation for a danger–even if it’s unknown ~

~ While fear implies a specific object to be feared in the here/now. ~

(Anxiety is: ‘He MIGHT harm me’ where fear is: “He IS harming me with  his fist, words, actions, etc.”)

If you heard there was a weapon proven to prevent most crimes (including picking a dangerous partner) before it happened, would you run out and buy it? World-renowned security expert Gavin deBecker says this weapon exists,but you already have it. He calls it “the gift of fear.”

The story of a woman named Kelly begins with a simple warning sign. A man offers to help carry her groceries into her apartment—and instantly, Kelly doesn’t like the sound of his voice. Kelly
goes against her gut and lets him help her—and in doing so, she lets a rapist into her home.

“We get a signal prior to violence,” Gavin says. “There are preincident  indicators. Things that happen before violence occurs.” Gavin says that unlike any other living creature, humans will sense
danger, yet still walk right into it.

“You’re in a hallway waiting for an elevator late at night. The elevator door opens, and there’s a guy inside, and he makes you afraid. You don’t know why, you don’t know what it is. And many women will stand there and look at that guy and say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to think like that. I don’t want to be the kind of person who lets the door close in his face. I’ve got to be nice. I don’t want him to think I’m not nice.’

And so human beings will get into a steel soundproof chamber with someone they’re afraid of, and there’s not another animal in nature that would even consider it.”

Gavin says that “eerie feelings” is exactly what he wants women to pay attention to. “We’re trying to analyze the warning signs,” he says. “And what I really want to teach today and forever is the feeling of the warning sign. All the other stuff is our explanation for the feeling. Why it was this, why it was that. The feeling itself IS the warning sign.”

What happens over and over again is that women dismantle their OWN internal safety system by ignoring it. The longer she ignores it, the more ‘over rides’ it receives and retrains the brain to ignore the fear signal. Once rewired women are at tremendous risks of all kinds…risks of picking the wrong men, of squelching fear signals of impending violence, shutting off alarms about potential sexual assaults, shutting down red flags about financial rip offs, squeeking out hints about poor character in other people…and the list goes on. What is left after your whole entire safety system is dismantled? Not much….

Women, subconsciously sensing they need to have ‘something’ to fall back on, swap out true and profoundly accurate fear signals with the miserly counterfeit and highly unproductive feeling of worry/anxiety.

LADIES– WRONG FEELING!

Then they end up in counseling for their 4th dangerous relationship and wonder if they have a target sign on their forehead. No they don’t. They have learned to dismantle, rename, minimize, justify, or deny the fear signals they get or got in the relationship. As if their ability to ‘take it’ or ‘not be afraid’ of very dangerous behavior is some sort of
win for them. As if their ability to look danger in the face and STAY means they are as tough or competitive as he is…

No–it means they have a fear signal that no longer saves them. Their barely stuttering signal means it’s been over-ridden by her. She felt it, labeled it, and released it all the while staring eye-to-eye with what she should fear most.

Then later, or another day or week passes and she has mounting anxiety–over what she wonders? She has a chronic low grade worry, whisps of anxiety that waife thru her life. She can’t put 2+2 together to figure out that ignoring true fear will demand to be recognized by her subconscious in some way—an illegitimate way through worry and anxiety that does nothing to save her from real danger. Her real ally (her true fear) has been squelched and banished.

When coming to us for counseling she wants us to help her ‘feel safe’ again when actually, we can’t do any of that. It’s all in her internal system as it’s always been. Her safety is inside her and her future healing is too.

She will sit in the counselor’s office denying true fear and begging for relief from the mounting anxiety she is experiencing. She doesn’t trust herself, her intuition, her judgments–all she can feel is anxiety. And with good reason! True fear is her true intuition…not anxiety. But she’s already canned what can save her and now on some level she must know she has nothing left that can help her feel and react.

Animals instinctively react to the danger signal–the adrenaline, flash of fear, and flood of cortisol. They don’t have internal dialogue with themselves like “What did that mean? Why did he say that? I don’t like that behavior—I wonder if he was abused as a child.”

An animal is trained to have a natural reaction to the fear signal–they run. You don’t see animals ‘stuck’ in abusive mating environments! In nature, as in us, we are wired with the King of Comments which is the danger signal. When we respond to the flash of true fear, we aren’t left having a commentary with ourselves.

“The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination.” – John Schaar

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Not All Abusers Are Created Equal

Just as not all victims are the same, not all perpetrators of harm are the same either. There is a temptation to ‘lump’ them all together–making ‘who’ they are that makes them abuse others the same as other abusers and what they ‘do’ as abusers the same as other abusers. Perhaps this is where Domestic Violence theory and pathology theory walk different paths.

Pathology is often the missing piece when looking at the domestic violence or abuse scenario. Pathologicals are part of the continuum of abuse–but usually hover at the upper end of the continuum. They represent those who relapse into abusive behavior (emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual, and/or financial)no matter how many batterer intervention groups they are forced into. Their biology and hard wiring is often overlooked by the court system who mandates these groups and over looked by the organizations who offer batterer programs. But it is exactly their pathology that differs them from other abusers.

I have suggested repeatedly that those who run Batterer Intervention Programs need to personality disorder test those entering anger management, batterer groups, and other similar programs. That’s because we need to weed out those who will not only not be helped by the program, but as Robert Hare says, will only learn how to use the information in the groups against the victims, the system, and other organizations
running similar programs.  There’s also no use in wasting tax payers money on treatment for those who don’t benefit from treatment.

Pathologicals (those with the ‘Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorders of Cluster B/Psychopathy) are those most likely to abuse the group by gathering info and becoming a slyer abuser. They are the ones most likely to use the information they learned in group later on the judge, their attorney, court evaluators, child evaluators, etc. If Hare didn’t think pathologicals should be given treatment in prison, why do we think they should be given similar treatment information outside of prison like groups that end up being ‘pre-prison’ routes for many pathologicals?

Pathologicals are also those most likely to get sent to intervention groups over and over again. There is a danger in ‘graduating’ the pathologicals for having ‘successfully’ completed their weeks in batterer intervention and/or anger management. They returns to the victim with a certificate in hand by an organization that says ‘They have completed the program’ when what really occurred was that they did not benefit in a long term way from what they were taught. But the certificate helps the abuser get in the door again. Many victims think they are protecting themselves by mandating the abuser has to go through intervention
to be able to come home again. It’s a mirage that we offer when we give a pathological a certificate of completion. Batterer groups and court ordered anger management need to be offered for those who can truly ‘complete’ the program because they have the capacity to sustain the positive change that the program says they need to change. I have known many a case in which the victim was killed after the batterer intervention program when they let the new ‘graduate’ back into their home.

Pathologicals are those most likely to convince others that they are not the problem–that she is, or the world, their job, their childhoods, their attorneys, etc.

Pathologicals are those most likely to stalk. They don’t take no or go away as answers–they take it as a challenge. When programs like DV are helping women with stalking, they need to understand that by nature of what causes most stalkers to behave the way they do they are either personality disorders/pathology or they are chronically mentally ill as in schizophrenia and often unmedicated bi-polars. Your run-of-the-mill unhappy husband who has been dumped doesn’t stalk.

Pathologicals are those most likely to abscond children and bolt. Giving partial custody or unsupervised visitation is to invite the natural outcomes of a pathological with poor impulse control.

Pathologicals are those most likely to expose children to abuse, neglect, and their pathological lifestyles. They are those most likely to program children against the protective and non-pathological parent.

And last but certainly not least, pathologicals are those most likely to kill or attempt to kill. Without conscience, empathy, guilt, remorse or insight—someone so ‘inconvenient’ like an ‘abuse tattler’ is likely to be seen as a swarming gnat and killed with the same amount of forethought.

Clearly, not all abusers are pathological. I have seen many people go through batterer intervention and ‘get it,’ go home, change their behaviors, positively impact their marriages and families and never do it again. But in pathology, there’s ‘nothing wrong with them’ so why change? In pathology, it’s always someone else’s problem–it’s never about their behavior. In pathology, it’s not merely about the Power & Control Wheel that explains their abuse of power. In narcissism and psychopathy, power is food. It’s not ‘a way of looking at relationship dynamics’ — it just ‘is.’ It’s biological not dynamic. The new information out on the Neuroscience of chronic batterers and other pathological types show us the parts of the brain that are impacted and prevent them from change. This is not merely willful behavior, this is his hard wiring.

All abuse is an abuse of power. But not all abuse of power is treatable or curable. It’s not that there aren’t similarities in the abuse or even the abuser–but in pathology the abuse of power has no cure. Abuse, addiction, mental health issues all have the hope of treatment when there is insight and the ability to sustain change. But in pathology, the inability to grow, sustain consistent positive change, or develop insight about how their behavior negatively effects others precludes them from the benefit of treatment.

That IS what pathology is–the inability to be helped by medication, counseling, spiritually, or even love. Abusers who are not pathological have the ability to grow, change, and develop insight about how their abuse of power and control harms others. Pathologicals can never do that.

That’s why all abusers are not created equal.

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Trait Examination OR Character Assassination?

Part of the problem we face in trying to get to the nitty-gritty of pathological love relationships is that ‘how we do it’ or ‘what we call it’ is judged so severely that it impairs sharing the valuable outcomes that are learned.

There are groups of professionals, women’s orgs, and service agencies that tip toe around what we ‘call’ patterns of selection in relationships. There are unspoken rules and heavily weighted opinions about ‘what’ we can discuss and ‘how’ we discuss the outcomes.

What am I talking about? Since the 1970’s and the women’s movement, discussing the specifics about women’s choices in relationships, patterns of selection, personality traits, mental health, sexual addiction/deviancy has been largely discouraged and ‘semanti-sized’ as ‘labeling the victim’ or ‘victim blaming.’ It has put the victim off limits for any in-depth understanding other than a victimology theory that was developed in the 1970’s.

It is hard to get around the billboard image of ‘victim’ to talk about any kind of relationship dynamics or other psychological aspects (including biology or temperament engrained traits) that is happening in the pathological love relationship. We may study him but we already have a ‘theory’ for her which is not to be disturbed.

Compare this to any other field of mental health and it’s absurd that we would say ‘We already understand depression, no more theories, no more studying! Don’t call it depression or you are blaming the patient for their own depression.’

To study her is to blame her. To measure her traits to see if there are vulnerabilities or pattern typing is to suggest she is flawed.

* The victim assuredly has been through trauma.
* Studying the victim in no way says they have not been through trauma.
* The victim is not to blame for what happened to them.
* Studying the victim in no way says they are responsible for what happened to them.
* The victim did not ‘choose’ the victimization, but in relational dysfunction, she did pick the victimizer.

Could we learn something about that?

How will Cancer be won or a cure for AIDS be found if we don’t study the problem from all angles? If we conclude that studying the victim blames them, then we have cut off one entire segment of research that can help us in prevention, intervention and treatment–whether it’s a medical disorder or a pathological relationship.

Studying victimology, including aspects of the victim, is not victim character asassination. It might be trait examination or pattern of selection analysis. It might be a lot of things that have nothing to do with blame and shame and everything to do with understanding or creating new paradigms in which to see these relationships. It might piggyback
off of theories developed in the 1970’s…surely we have learned SOMETHING new about relationship dynamics, pathology in relationships, personality disorders as intimate partners, violence and addiction and their part in these relationships…surely we can UPDATE a theory without our own assassination or that of the victim?

In some ways, I envy the Scientific and Research communities that look at the data and pass all the d*@amn political correctness and emotional politics of ‘labeling’ it something that certain groups find offensive. They test and crunch numbers and put it in a journal without all the rig-a-ma-roy. But in our case, where we are a notch below the researchers, what we study, how we describe what we found, is subject to so much scrutiny that many clinicians and writers hesitate to publish what they found.

So it has been with many of the things that The Institute has studied, found, reported, and written. In many organizations the first book ‘How to Spot a Dangerous Man’ was rejected for looking at family role modeling, patterns of selection, and other aspects that women themselves said contributed to their pathological relationship. (On the other hand, it has been hailed by many domestic violence agencies and used widely in shelters, treatment centers and women’s prisons.)

We stepped it up a huge notch in the ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ in which we used testing instruments to test women’s traits to see if there were temerament patterns in women who ended up in the most dangerous and disordered of relationships. This caught huge attention from some groups as the ground-breaking trait identification that it was and yet still; the victim groups saw it as labeling. How can we help women if we don’t understand their own biology?

Ironically, what we found was significant–super-traits so perfectly and symmetrically seen in 80 cases. Did we hurt a victim by studying that? Or have we helped now thousands of women who have read the books, been counseled by our trained therapists, come to our treatment programs? How would we have gotten here today without daring to look deeper…to even risk looking at her! Not to blame her, but to understand her.

Some of the biggest break throughs that have been happening are in understanding the biology of our own brains and the consequences of our biology on our behavior, choices, and futures. We know that MRI’s are being done on psychopath’s brains–revealing areas of brains that work differently. Some day, I think that may cross over and other personality disorders and chronic mental illnesses will be MRI’d as well so we understand how those disorder effect biology and brain function.

But what about victims?

* If we put the word ‘damaged’ away and instead used the word and looked at how ‘different’ brain regions in victims function, over function, under function, are influenced by stress, PTSD, adrenaline, cortisol, and early childhood abuse–could we come to understand how their brain might function in their patterns of selection in dangerous relationships?
* Could we come to understand that even temperament traits might give proclivity to how the brain ‘chooses’ or how the brain categorizes (or ignores) red flags, danger, or is highly reactive to traumatized attraction?

* Could we understand brains that have higher tolerance levels because of certain brain areas that operate differently than other people?
* Could we understand traumatic memory storage and why good memories of him (even as awful as he might be) are so much stronger than the abuse memories?
* If we know what part of the brain distorts memory storage, can we work with that?
* Could we come to understand trait temperaments as risk factors or certain brain functions as possible victim vulnerabilities?
* Then would we know who is at risk?
* Would we understand better, how to TREAT the victim in counseling?
* How to develop prevention and intervention?
* Or how intensity of attachment could be either a temperament trait or a brain function instead of merely ‘victim labeling.’

I am not only interested in the psycho-biology of the victim but how the psycho-biology affects patterns of selection and reactions in the most pathological of relationships. When we start really dealing with an open dialogue about these survivors, looking past ridiculous theories that asking questions is victim blaming, then maybe we can really offer some new theories into victimology that by passes band aid approaches to complex psycho-bio-social understandings. This is what The Institute intends to do….

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Recovering Without Validation

Last week we talked about the difficulties, and yet the real possibilities of having to recover without justice. Many of you wrote me because you have indeed had the experience of facing getting over the aftermath of a pathological with very little legal justice. It doesn’t mean that you don’t pursue your own rights. You should always stand up for what you believe in. It’s just that if the universe tilts in his favor yet again, or the courts continue to not support you, you still have to heal–for your own recovery and your own future—you must still heal.

It is the same as today’s message–Healing Without Validation. Sometimes NO ONE believes he was pathological, a monster, did the things we said he did. He continues on in his job looking normal and even successful while
the women looks hysterical, unstable, and out of her mind. Mr. Pathological schmoozes with your friends, family,or bosses convincing all those around us he never did what you said he did, doesn’t have the traits you accuse him of, and is just trying to get a good guy to a freaked out woman.

Mr. Pathological turns friends against you. Your attorney starts to believe HIS version of the story. Cops withhold restraining orders because ‘he seems like such a nice guy’ and even your children take his side.

This is the ‘conning’ side of his personality. Most pathologicals are octagon–they have eight sides! His charming side, intellectual side, friendly side, professional side, rageful side, addiction side, mentally ill side and lying/conning side.  But many other people don’t see the negative side of rage, addiction, mental illness,lying and conning. His positive side that faces outward to the general public is charming, intellectual, friendly, and professional. It is no wonder that women have to go through the recovery process with very little validation.

It is pathology websites, books and programs that help women heal when they find their validation in other stories, research, books, forums, and organizations designed to respond to pathological love relationships.  The validation you are seeking comes from others who have been through it not from the pathologicals who are hard wired to have no insight about their disorder. And validation often does not come from those who have not personally seen the dichotomies of his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sides. That could include not receiving the much needed validation from your family or friends. Examine where it is you are trying to receive validation and adjust it to a realistic group who has experienced what you have. THAT’S where your validation will come from.

The Institute’s phone coaching, tele-support groups, and retreats are created to give the pathological education and validation for what you have experienced. Let us know if we can help bring healing to your pathological love relationship trauma.

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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Special Notice from The Institute–Colleagues latest survivors book

Special Notice from The Institute–Colleagues latest survivors book

Dear Institute Reader;

Rarely do we send an extra email besides our weekly newsletter but it isn’t often that one of our colleagues writes an extraordinary book that can help millions of domestic violence and pathological love relationship survivors.  It is also unusual that the author is not available to do her own promotion of her latest autobiography of pathological torture.Our colleague Susan Murphy Milano has Stage IV cancer so we are part of a ‘virtual’ online book tour that will help bring her book in front of millions of other survivors.

Susan’s father a decorated Chicago police officer was a child abuser, wife beater and ultimately a murderer. Holding My Hand Through Hell is a personal autobiography, a true crime memoir of a life of service to survivors.  Below is a book review I wrote about the book. I hope you will consider reading this book–not only to understand the woman behind the work but The Institute has consistently encouraged our survivors to find their place in public pathology education and to serve and educate others. Susan’s life is a testament to how a survivor can change an entire field. What Susan did is unusual but it’s not impossible and I am challenging all our readers to follow in her foot steps to shed light on pathology.

____________________________________

Book Review of ‘Holding My Hand Through Hell’
Author Susan Murphy Milano
Review by Sandra L. Brown, MA
The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education

What does an early childhood of alcoholism, sexual abuse, and the witnessing of violence in the home produce?  For decades psychology has been studying the effects on victims of these impactful early beginnings. What psychology discovered was for some victims they would succumb to addiction, repeated patterns of victim/abuser relationships, or crippling mental illness. These early impressionable  years in children’s lives often marred their adult futures with the scars of abuse.

 

And while childhood is the fragile soil from which traumatic imprints can sink deeply into the emotional roots of a victim, what about trauma in adulthood? What happens to adults when unthinkable traumas invade? Or worse—when both a victim’s childhood AND adulthood are contaminated with overwhelming pain? What does the trauma tonics of childhood abuse and the added experiences of a murdered mother and a suicided father do to a victim?

 

From the surface, psychology would ‘predict’ the victim of these combined traumas would likely develop the emotional catatonia produced from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Early childhood coping mechanisms that were not fully developed because of trauma, gets a double dose as an adult forcing an adult to call on coping mechanisms that were never produced in childhood.  This is often the kiss of dysfunction for a victim.

 

But for the resilient, these trauma tonics produce pioneers.

 

In the unusual cases of hyper-resiliency, too many traumas often create a metamorphic response turning terror into a piercing intensity of determination. Where the cruel hand of victimization normally would turn an adult into a fetal-positioned ball of anxiety, the resilient phoenix rises out of the ashes riding the horse of advocacy out of the apocalypse.

 

In this victimology- trilogy Susan Murphy Milano morphed from abused child to adult survivor to victim advocate before her super hero cape ever unfurled. What would scorch most adults psyches merely ignited a flame of indomitably in Susan’s mind to somehow prevent further intimate partner homicides.

 

That is a simple analogy for a complex career spanning decades of saving people’s lives in the most unorthodox of ways.  Seeing your parents blood splattered across a house has a way of changing the playing field…and the rules. So there were few rules for Susan in saving people’s lives.  And there weren’t any she wouldn’t consider breaking if it meant keeping one more woman alive. When you aren’t playing by anyone else’ rules the possibilities are endless and thinking outside the box for answers becomes the norm which is why her extraordinary thinking produced extraordinary results and why years from now much of her work will still be considered revolutionary.

 

For every survivor who wondered if she could ever take the pain of violence and put it through the grist mill of experience and help others because of it–you won’t want to miss reading Holding My Hand Through Hell by Susan Murphy Milano who will do more than convince you that God recycles pain–it will show you a magnificent life lived in the service of others, that we may all heal.
Sandra L. Brown, The Institute

You can purchase the book at :
SusanMurphy-Milano.Com
HoldingMyHandThroughHell.Com
IceCubePress.Com

Recovery With Out Justice

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

At the heart of the victims rights movement I was involved in during the 1980’s after my father’s murder, was the concept of judicial justice that would lead to psychological justice.  It’s a great concept and in a perfect world it would work in all situations.  If the pathological person wronged you (physically hurt you, conned you out of money, screwed up your custody situation, bouts of infidelity, or spiritually abused you, etc.), he would be held accountable in the courts for his behavior, and more importantly, would be forced into victim restitution in which he would have to repay or do something as a sign of his guilt and your pain.

Of course, restitution in and of itself really doesn’t heal anything.  It’s just the victim or person who was harmed feels like the scales of justice, that were so grossly leaning in his direction, got balanced into their direction.  For a moment in court, and however long it takes him to pay or do the restitution, he is officially ‘guilty’ and everyone knows he was charged as such.  He is ‘paying his price to his victim’ for his actions.  For a moment in court, a judge believes you!  He believes the monster really did what you say he did.  That in and of itself is often the psychological justice that victims really look for and it helps them to heal.

In murder trials that I often attended, obviously the family cannot be compensated in any true way that relieves their pain and suffering.  Their loved one was murdered.  No amount of restitution touches a human life.  The best the family can hope for is physical payment, prison, the death sentence, or some other act that the court assigns for the monster to the victim’s family.

The judicial system acts as the conscience of this country.  Victims seek solace in the courtroom and chambers hoping that justice will alleviate the pain, horror, and stigmatization of being a victim of the monster.  But we know that in many cases, and I dare say, in most cases, that is not what happens.  Restraining orders are not granted, arrests are not performed for stalking or violence, children are given over to the pathological who is overtly violent, sick, drug addicted, or otherwise an inept parent.  When the pathological doesn’t pay child support, nothing is done and the child is still sent to him. The thousands of dollars he conned out of you or stole from you is not returned.  When alimony isn’t paid, he gets away with it.  Repeated visits to the courts do nothing to convince them, or to open their eyes to the true nature of his behaviors. Anything that is court ordered he defies and laughs at.  You stand, mouth gapping and wondering, “Where is the justice?  HOW does he get away with this?”

I have repeatedly said that the universe is strangely tilted to the benefit of the pathological.  If ANYONE will get away with a con or a criminal act, it will be the pathological.  The universal scales of justice are tilted in their favor and ironically, somehow influence the judicial scales of justice.  In the 20 years of doing this work, I have seen them literally get away with murder, rape, embezzlement, breaking and entering, stalking, domestic violence, child abuse, and more.  This ranks as the Eighth Wonder of the World—how pathological people can con their way out of the most vicious deeds and often never pay in any way for their behavior.

In these cases, women’s hopes for justice are dashed and it negatively impacts their psychological healing.  The scales of justice will never be balanced—she is not vindicated in the way that helps her to heal.  Even if he is found guilty of something, he is rarely ever held to the standard of the law it’s connected to.  If he is supposed to pay a fine, he doesn’t.  If he is supposed to go to jail or prison, it’s postponed or overturned.  If custody is denied, he receives it by another judge. If he embezzled, it’s forgiven in exchange for an admission of guilt.

Victim’s rights and its connection to judicial and psychological justice will not get played out often in pathological relationships.  The psychological justice that the victim is counting on in order to validate her—her moment in which the conscience of this country believes her– doesn’t happen.  Since we understand that psychological justice is what is most likely to help victim’s heal, now what?

Sternly, I tell victims of pathological relationships that they sometimes must recover without justice.  We are not discussing ‘what is fair’, because the pathological has already skirted the issue of ‘fairness.’  He doesn’t live with the concept of fairness and the law doesn’t use it as a concept with him.  If you desire to recover, heal and move forward with your life, it will require that you might just have to recover without judicial justice, without victim restitution, and without the conscience of this country validating your story.

You have to recover without a second of judicial support.  Women who hinge recovery on judicial justice, waiting for her day in court or ‘when he gets what’s coming to him’, will never recover.  The universe is tilted in his favor and your own recovery must be a daring adventure in the face of a lack of victim’s rights.  Sometimes the only personal justice is recovering and living a great life.  What he had done to you doesn’t define you, hold you down, or stop you from succeeding in your own spiritual outlook.

In the end, the only thing you really have control over is how you choose to see your situation.  If you see it as a victim and are unable to move past that view, you won’t recover.  If you see it as horrible things that happened to you but don’t define or restrain you, you will move forward—with or without justice.

The unfair situation is what you have lived through and the ‘aftermath’ of the effects of the pathological relationship.  In the face of this grossly dehumanizing experience is the indomitable ability to recover that can guide you not only to survive, but also to thrive in the face of great pain.  I have every confidence you can heal, even without justice.  Let us know if we can help you do that.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

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Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.
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