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Danse Macabre

The Dynamics of  Spousal and Intimate Partner Abuse

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Emotional, Verbal, and Psychological Abuse, Domestic and Family Violence and Spousal Abuse

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin

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Articles Menu

II. The Mind of the Abuser

III. Condoning Abuse

IV. The Anomaly of Abuse

V. Reconditioning the Abuser

VI. Reforming the Abuser

VII. Contracting with Your Abuser

VIII. Your Abuser in Therapy

IX. Testing the Abuser

X. Conning the System

XI. Befriending the System

XII. Working with Professionals

XIII. Interacting with Your Abuser

XIV. Coping with Your Stalker

XV. Statistics of Abuse and Stalking

XVI. The Stalker as Antisocial Bully

 

XVII.  Coping with Various Types of Stalkers

 

XVIII. The Erotomanic Stalker

 

XIX. The Narcissistic Stalker

 

XX. The Psychopathic (Antisocial) Stalker

 

XXI. How Victims are Affected by Abuse

 

XXII. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

 

XXIII. Recovery and Healing from Trauma and Abuse

 

XXIV. The Conflicts of Therapy


Important Comment

Most abusers are men. Still, some are women. We use the masculine and feminine adjectives and pronouns ('he", his", "him", "she", her") to designate both sexes: male and female as the case may be.

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It takes two to tango – and an equal number to sustain a long-term abusive relationship. The abuser and the abused form a bond, a dynamic, and a dependence. Expressions such as "folie a deux" and the "Stockholm Syndrome" capture facets – two of a myriad – of this danse macabre. It often ends fatally. It is always an excruciatingly painful affair.

Abuse is closely correlated with alcoholism, drug consumption, intimate-partner homicide, teen pregnancy, infant and child mortality, spontaneous abortion, reckless behaviours, suicide, and the onset of mental health disorders. It doesn't help that society refuses to openly and frankly tackle this pernicious phenomenon and the guilt and shame associated with it.

People – overwhelmingly women – remain in an abusive household for a variety of reasons: economic, parental (to protect the children), and psychological. But the objective obstacles facing the battered spouse cannot be overstated.

The abuser treats his spouse as an object, an extension of himself, devoid of a separate existence and denuded of distinct needs. Thus, typically, the couple's assets are on his name – from real estate to medical insurance policies. The victim has no family or friends because her abusive partner or husband frowns on her initial independence and regards it as a threat. By intimidating, cajoling, charming, and making false promises, the abuser isolates his prey from the rest of society and, thus, makes her dependence on him total. She is often also denied the option to study and acquire marketable skills or augment them.

Abandoning the abusive spouse frequently leads to a prolonged period of destitution and peregrination. Custody is usually denied to parents without a permanent address, a job, income security, and, therefore, stability. Thus, the victim stands to lose not only her mate and nest – but also her off-spring. There is the added menace of violent retribution by the abuser or his proxies – coupled with emphatic contrition on his part and a protracted and irresistible "charm offensive".

(continued below)


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Gradually, she is convinced to put up with her spouse's cruelty in order to avoid this harrowing predicament.

But there is more to an abusive dyad than mere pecuniary convenience. The abuser – stealthily but unfailingly – exploits the vulnerabilities in the psychological makeup of his victim. The abused party may have low self-esteem, a fluctuating sense of self-worth, primitive defence mechanisms, phobias, mental health problems, a disability, a history of failure, or a tendency to blame herself, or to feel inadequate (autoplastic neurosis). She may have come from an abusive family or environment – which conditioned her to expect abuse as inevitable and "normal". In extreme and rare cases – the victim is a masochist, possessed of an urge to seek ill-treatment and pain.

The abuser may be functional or dysfunctional, a pillar of society, or a peripatetic con-artist, rich or poor, young or old. There is no universally-applicable profile of the "typical abuser". Yet, abusive behaviour often indicates serious underlying psychopathologies. Absent empathy, the abuser perceives the abused spouse only dimly and partly, as one would an inanimate source of frustration. The abuser, in his mind, interacts only with himself and with "introjects" – representations of outside objects, such as his victims.

This crucial insight is the subject of the next article.

Continue...


RESOURCES

The Toxic Relationships Study List

"Trauma Bonding" and the Psychology of Torture

Traumas as Social Interactions

Intimacy and Abuse

Verbal and Emotional Abuse - Articles Menu

Domestic Violence and Abuse statistics - Click here

Personality Disorders

Narcissism at a Glance

Narcissistic Personality Disorder at a Glance

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Tips

Open Site Family Violence

Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics - Book Review

HealthyPlace Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) Community

Case Studies on the Psychopath and Narcissist Survivors Support Group

Ask Sam on the Psychopath and Narcissist Survivors Support Group

Ask Sam on the Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Forum


Chats and Interviews

Financial Times: When narcissism becomes pathological (click HERE to download the article)

HealthyPlace Narcissism and Abuse Videos

 

Narcissists as Abusers TV Shows

(Click "On Demand" at the bottom of the player and select the relevant shows on narcissism and abuse)

HealthyPlace CHAT with Sam Vaknin

Relationships with Abusive Narcissists CHAT

Narcissists in the Workplace Chat Transcript

WhoHub Interview

WebMD Chat with Sam Vaknin

Mental Health Today Chat

Dialogs about Narcissism and Abuse

Help Me Rhonda! radio talk show on narcissists

Listen to an Interview with Monda Williams

Listen to an Interview with Phil Hendrie - Part I, Part II

New Narc City - Interview in the New York Press

Listen to an INTERVIEW with Sam Vaknin

Listen to Conversations with a Narcissist - Click HERE for MP3

Listen to Radio Show Relationships with Abusive Narcissists

Narcissism - Listen to the Infinite Mind Radio Show

Mirror, Mirror - Interview with the Toronto Sun

More! Magazine: Has your man got a cheating disorder

ABC Radio Psychopaths in Suits - Listen or Read Transcript

Listen to Radio Show Relationships with Abusive Narcissists

Narcissism - Listen to the Infinite Mind Radio Show

Mirror, Mirror - Interview with the Toronto Sun

Egomania (Channel 4 Documentary in the United Kingdom) - Wikipedia Entry

I, Psychopath (Documentary) - CBC and IMDB (Vaknin and "I, Psychopath")

 Click HERE to download a ZIP file with  interviews, chat transcripts, dialogs, bibliographies, and scholarly articles


Copyright Notice

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The author's name and a link to this Website must be incorporated in any reproduction of the material for any use and by any means.


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Poetry of Healing and Abuse: My Poems

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