Tag Archives: abuse

7 Signs You Are a Victim of Gas Lighting

house

If you are (or were) married to a narcissist, then you may be familiar with the term, “gas lighting.” It is the narcissist’s masterful manipulation technique to gain control over you. As your relationship begins to weaken, he carefully causes you slight anxiety or confusion. But as the relationship worsens, he punitively devalues you, and you thereby question your mental sanity. Extreme or long term gas lighting can ultimately lead you to having a distorted sense of reality: not knowing who is right or wrong, feeling guilty for being the person you are, and losing any remaining self-confidence.

Gas lighting is an extremely dangerous form of emotional abuse, as it causes the narcissist’s victim to question her judgment, on even the smallest issues, thereby making her dependent of him. If, for example, she is repeatedly told that she is bad with money, she will begin to believe it, and think that without her narcissist by her side, she will be financially ruined.

The term “gas lighting” comes from the 1944 film, ‘Gaslight,’ where a young woman named Paula falls madly in love with her suitor, Gregory. After an intense romance that led to marriage, Gregory begins to display pathological narcissistic behavior, leading to Paula’s insanity. In one scene, Gregory tampers with the gas light in the attic, causing the house lights to dim. When Paula mentions hearing footsteps in the attic and the lights dimming, Gregory tells her it’s completely her imagination, making Paula question her judgment. Gas lighting is now the widely used term for when a narcissist truly messes with your head.

Depending on the stage of your narcissistic relationship, gas lighting at first appears to be subtle, but then gradually worsens. Below are the signs you are a victim of gas lighting, in order in which they may occur. This list illustrates that as the relationship declines, so does your mental clarity and grasp of reality and truth. Continue reading

Katy Perry’s Stirs Hearts and Raises Awareness

The Grammys celebrate a year in music performance and writing. Colorful characters, old favorites and new faces all show up to sing their hearts out and find out who will take home trophies for a variety of categories. Katy Perry is one such artist who has been providing party anthems for several years now. She recently brought her brand of fun to the Superbowl with a stage show that featured dancing sharks, beach balls and palm trees, not to mention a giant robot tiger puppet thing. Continue reading

Embrace Your Sexual Fantasies for More Honest Living

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 12.22.26 PMBy Beatty Cohan, MSW, LCSW 

In my 35 years as a practicing psychotherapist and sex therapist, I have treated hundreds of men and women of all ages and stages in life– both heterosexual and homosexual– whose problems have included depression, anxiety, early child sexual abuse, addictions of every kind and relationship and sexual problems. In all those years only a handful of patients have chosen to share their sexual fantasies with me.  And in daring to do so, what they were all looking for was my reassurance that it was ok to fantasize and that their fantasies were “normal.” In retrospect, this is an area that I should have explored more thoroughly with all of my patients. And indeed, this is a topic that most of us (whether we are in therapy or not) should not be afraid to explore, as we seek to have richer and more fulfilling sex lives.

Children’s natural curiosity and their openness to the world around them allows them to have creative fantasies as they attempt to understand and make sense of the world.  As we develop and mature sexually, we all begin to fantasize about what it must feel like to fall in love, be in love, experience that first kiss and have sex. We all remember our first crush and that ‘feeling’ that gave us butterflies in our stomach. As a child I too was mesmerized by movies about love and sex and devoured romance novels and magazines, which only served to further activate my already active sexual fantasy life. As an adult, I read Nancy Friday’s book My Secret Garden which became an instant classic and one of the only books available at that time that enabled women to pursue and enjoy their sexual fantasies. These days, adolescent girls and boys, especially when talking among themselves, are very open and honest about their sex lives and sexual fantasies.

I have observed that as adults begin to form more permanent love relationships, the topic of sexual fantasies wane. In fact most adults are apt to repress their sexual fantasies as ‘life’ takes over.  And we can all attest to the fact that talking about sexual fantasies is unlikely to be dinnertime conversation among adults. And yet we all have fantasies, sexual and otherwise.

In writing this piece I want to give people permission to fully explore their deepest sexual fantasies with themselves and with their partners. I also needed to acknowledge to myself that although I have always had a rich sexual fantasy life, I too rarely shared these fantasies with anyone for fear of embarrassment.  Fortunately, today I am in a relationship where I am able to not only talk about these fantasies, but to act them out as well, if I so desire.

I encourage you to take whatever steps you need to take to free yourself mentally and sexually.   Tell yourself that from this day forward you will no longer repress, suppress, deny or avoid enjoying your sexual fantasies to the fullest as long as these fantasies aren’t acted out in a way that will be hurtful to you or others.

I wish you a successful and sexually charged fantasy life.

***

Beatty is a nationally recognized psychotherapist, sex therapist, co-author of For Better, For Worse, Forever:  Discover the Path to Lasting Love, columnist, national speaker and national radio and television expert guest.  She currently hosts a live ASK BEATTY radio show on the Progressive Radio Network in New York City and has a private practice in New York City and Sarasota, Florida.

3 Young Adult Books that Will Make You a Better Grown Up

The third week of October is annually celebrated as “Teen Read Week.” Since young adult fiction is in a golden age and having a large impact on our mainstream media (see: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight, etc) we thought we’d take a look at the section of the book store you normally leave to teenage girls.

NYT Best-selling author John Green says he has no interest in writing about adults because they are too cautious with their emotions. By writing stories about teenagers Green is able to ask and answer the tough questions directly without having to duck around the bush – teenagers go all in when it comes to their hearts and their curiosity. Through those qualities we as adults are able to be more honest with ourselves as to the questions we have about life, love, and the world we live in. Hence the reason for this list. Actually, speaking of John Green, let’s start with him.

 

1.) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.faultinourstarsbookcover

Story:  Hazel Grace Lancaster has terminal cancer. Though doctors have miraculously found a way to stop the disease from spreading she knows she only has a limited time left and her life is defined by being a cancer patient. That’s until she meets Augustus Waters. They fall in love, go on an adventure and break your heart in every conceivable way. Obvious warning: keep a box of Kleenex with you at all times while reading this book.

Why you should read it: If you think about it, we all have the same death sentence as Hazel, hers is just sooner than most of ours. Still, Hazel’s decision to live her life to her fullest capability no matter if she has a few months, days or weeks left is inspiring. TFiOS isn’t about cancer, it’s about life. It’s about lowering our defenses to allow the important people in our lives to <i>really</i> matter. It’s about letting yourself to feel – the good, the bad, all of it – because if you don’t it doesn’t matter when your terminal date is, you’re not living anyway.

Similar reads: “Looking for Alaska” – John Green, “Everyday” – David Levithan  & “You Know Where to Find Me” – Rachel Cohn

 

the-hunger-games-wallpaper-logo-2560x16002.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Story: To pay for the sins of uprisers 74 years before them, the citizens of the Panem districts must nominate one boy and one girl every year to participate in the Hunger Games – a sadistic, caged battle to the death for those unlucky enough to be chosen until only one “victor” remains. Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute for District 12 to save her sister Primrose from having to go in. As Katniss does everything she can to survive, she unknowingly sparks a revolution that could bring her entire system of life to its knees.

Why you should read it:  There is the obvious argument that by not reading these books (seeing the movies isn’t the same!) you are literally living under a rock. There is more to it than being pop-culturally relevant though. “The Hunger Games” is a story of human nature – how if we go unchecked humans have a disgusting habit of letting our egos destroy ourselves. By sparking the revolution Katniss has an inside look at how societies corrupt themselves, and has to find the strength within herself to stop the cycle from repeating. Most of us can’t relate to toppling governments or taking down dictators, but we can all learn something from breaking negative patterns and making choices to provide ourselves, and those we care about, with a better life.

Similar reads: “Divergent” – Veronica Roth & “The Maze Runner” – James Dashner

 

3.) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellEleanorPark_thumb

Story: Eleanor is invited back to live with her mother after being kicked out by her abusive step-father for over a year. Every day she has to struggle to stay under the radar from his rage, while protecting her younger siblings and begging their mother to leave. Her life at home and her family’s complete lack of budget make it difficult for her to fit in at school – to the point Eleanor just wants to be invisible. Instead, she meets Park who shares his seat with her on the bus. It starts as a casual sharing of comic books so neither of them has to talk but inevitably they fall in love, and so starts the mission to save Eleanor from her hell at home and for Park to truly find himself.

Why you should read it:  It’s easy to be cynical of teenage love stories. They are too young to know better, right? “Eleanor & Park” proves that teenage naivety actually allows teenagers to fall deep enough into love to find strength and change the world, or at least the world around them. The beautiful thing about Eleanor and Park as characters is that they aren’t perfect. She isn’t a shy and clumsy, but strikingly beautiful damsel in distress. Park isn’t the smarter-than-he-wants-everyone-to-know athlete who gives a chance to the new girl. They have flaws, large ones. They have problems that are even bigger. There’s a quote that says “Love isn’t finding the perfect person, it’s seeing an imperfect person perfectly.” And these kids nail it on the first try. “Eleanor & Park” teaches us to love as deep as we can, no matter how scary it is. It’s a book about trust and inner strength and you find the people who will matter the most to you by being yourself.  By falling in love Eleanor and Park stop trying to blend in and allow themselves to really be seen for the first time.

Similar reads: “The Spectacular Now” – Tim Tharp & “Paper Towns” –  John Green

This is by no means a definitive list. What are your favorite young adult books? Was it “Catcher in the Rye” or something newer? Tell us in the comments below!

Find Out What You Want – Step #3

create-present

 What a remarkably appropriate stick this is, how well fitted for today. How interesting that I pulled it out of my bunch now, of all times. Now that I sit in a hotel room in Poland, in Katowice, in the city I grew up in. The city I escaped from. The city that still haunts me in nightmares.

Here I am, shocked like a deer in the headlights, because I feel the past closing in around me. I feel a life that is over and done with, that is gone, long gone, coming back from its dark hole. Here I am. Not Pausha Foley anymore but Patrycja Gawronska. Again.

Clinging to Christopher with all my might – he is my shield against Polishness. My link to Pausha. My link to Pausha Foley. To the American life. To the French life. To the lives I created for myself.

But then this – this dark, hard, painful existence in this dirty, dark, crumbling city – have I created this too? Have I created my childhood full of fear and pain? Have I created the trauma that sent me for long years into apathy and obliviousness?

I would hesitate to answer this … maybe … has it not been for one night, long ago, in Los Angeles. I worked with the wizard that night. I went deep, deep into the source of me, into dark places and scary blanknesses filled with a terrifying father, with masculine abuse and feminine neglect, with collapse of my power, my autonomy, my soul. And then, when the time came to return to my body, I resurfaced accompanied by a thought:

interesting how I organized all those experiences for myself…

Click here to read Find Out What You Want – Step #1 and Find Out What You Want – Step # 2

The Anti-Abuse Ad Only Children Can See

Visual-ANAR-SOLO-NI„OS-693x1024Children are arguably the most vulnerable population in human society. They are entirely dependent upon caregivers who may or may not be happy, prepared, or willing to provide them with a stable and loving home. Child victims of abuse are often particularly powerless in their circumstances, as it can be difficult to circumvent authority figures in order to seek out real help. That’s why a Spanish organization, Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation (or ANAR) has created a special anti-abuse advertisement that displays different messages to adults and children.

How, you might ask? It has to do with height and a kind of artifice similar to those hologram bookmarks we used to have as kids that showed different images depending on the angle from which you viewed it. From an average adult height, ANAR’s billboard reads, “Sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it.” From 4’5” and lower, the ad displays the message, “If somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you,” followed by the phone number. Here’s how it works:

 

This revolutionary ad may be the key to getting abused children the kind of help they need. It could also potentially sow distrust between parents and their children, and it could be co-opted by advertising agencies to transmit all kinds of messages to children without their caregivers knowing. For now, though, it’s an amazing step in the direction of child empowerment and safety, and we applaud ANAR’s work.

What do you think? What kinds of messages do think would be beneficial for children’s eyes alone?

How NY Teens Use Yoga to Overcome Domestic Violence

One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Men make up roughly 15% of domestic violence victims. And about 75% of Americans personally know someone who is or has been the victim of such abuse.

But statistics don’t paint an accurate picture. For many who read this article, domestic violence is a current reality, a past traumatic experience, or witnessed through a friend trapped in a toxic relationship. What you might not know is how young the victims of domestic violence can be. These patterns can begin as early as middle school and high school, in the some of the first relationships of a person’s life. Today’s episode of URBAN YOGIS on The Chopra Well features New York teenagers who have been or are at risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. The students are participants in RAPP (the Relationship Abuse Prevention Program) which falls under the Center Against Domestic Violence. RAPP educates teenagers about  relationship abuse and works to rehabilitate those who have already experienced the effects of violence. As it turns out, one of the techniques employed in this endeavor is yoga.

Teenagers in the RAPP program learn the many faces domestic violence can assume – from jealousy and possessiveness to full-on physical abuse. They also develop the vocabulary to discuss these issues, and the confidence and self-esteem to demand respect in their relationships. As a way of fostering physical and emotional strength, interested students receive weekly yoga lessons from Ashtanga instructor Eddie Stern, which gives them the opportunity to develop stress reduction and self-soothing techniques. And after breathing through difficult sequences and allowing themselves to rest in the final moments in Savasana pose, they can return to their iPods and friends and teenage lives with a growing sense of their own strength and power to overcome.

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The Pregnancy Scare – How I Found My Voice to Demand Respect

There is nothing quite like a trip to the laundry room at 2 AM. Especially if you are tripping barefoot through dewy grass, under guava trees, past a tire swing. Especially if you are burning between the legs and carrying reeking sheets in a massive, infuriating bundle. You will never forget this one, sister.

For two months I thought I was pregnant. “Thought” is too subtle. I dreamt in horrifying wakefulness, every passing minute a sharp reminder. I’m too young. I have no idea how to be a mom. Have a child with that brute? Dear God, no. The days tore through me as I wandered around, disembodied. My belly, my legs, my beating heart – they became possessed, first in my mind and later in the heavy discomfort that literally weighed me down. It was a long, bloodless summer.

I have never been raped. But they say one in four women in the U.S. will be sexually assaulted at some point in her life. This fear has called on me. First when my beloved clutched my neck and showed me just how strong those muscles were. I forced his arm away and held my tongue until…a more appropriate moment. “I’m sorry,” he later said, sheepishly. “I thought you wanted that.” I was left to comfort and assure him all was well. Next time I want to be surprise-strangled in the midst of tender love, I’ll make my desires known loud and clear. Asshole.

Excuses come to mind…. I’m not a prude. It was an honest mistake. He felt really, really bad. And then I marvel at my eagerness to explain his behavior away. It must, after all, be my fault. Part of me still believes this. What wretched girlfriend would so mindlessly mislead her man and cause him the pain of embarrassment? My neck aside, curse the woman who would ever wound a man’s pride. And, to be honest, I’ve kept my mouth shut through worse.

Fear came knocking next on the indigo latch door of a hut in rural New Zealand where was I staying during a 3-month solo backpacking trip. The pillow from which I awoke daily to falling guava pits now accommodated two heads. Months had passed in the span of days, and I reluctantly welcomed an unlikely companion into my fairy house. I had vacillated between disgust and intrigue. His eager, forward advances, flowers on my door, accentuated brushes past one another in the kitchen. The whole seduction at once nauseated and thrilled me.

In truth, I saw it coming. The festive air of night, the dancing, the liquor, my own brilliant and sensual self-awareness. When I finally closed the door of my little hut, I knew it wouldn’t stay shut for long. He came to me like a fugitive, calling gently at first, then stealing in eagerly.

Events spiraled in a wild, painful frenzy. I lost my footing on some astral ledge and slipped through the next minutes in terrifying confusion, trying to keep up. He didn’t notice. He did exactly what he had come to the fairy hut to do. For a sliver of time I existed only as an enveloping cosmic hole. A vessel into which the frantic lover might dump all his longing, his rage, his memories, his guilt, his sensitivity, his insecurity and his hunger. And it was my responsibility to let him do so.

I lay still for a moment, used up. In the past I might have turned to my side and fallen numbly asleep. But rage slowly devoured me. I sat up and faced him, as I had never done a sweetheart before. Words fell like poison from my dry mouth: How dare you? You miserable, pathetic excuse of a man. How dare you abuse me in this way. His shame sickened me. The panic in his eyes, the clammy palms, the hasty retreat.

The crisp night was a welcome relief from my hut, once so lovely and solitary and girlish. My arms laden with sheets, at least I was free. Back to sweet solitude. Back to the night and me. Who knew what the morning would bring? But for the next few dark hours I was free in my fiery, impassioned rage. Free and fierce and licking my own wounds.

In the end, I wasn’t pregnant. But there also wasn’t any blood for the rest of the summer. And my body didn’t feel like my own for nearly a year after the fact.  At least it would never be his again. We agreed to forget the night. As though I could forget, as though I would want to forget. How, after all, could I then raise my future daughters to know the power they hold within their bodies, and the great and terrible responsibility it is to be a woman?

That night will always exist in my archives. And the fear I have tasted, the rage and shame, too. Sixteen and twenty are fond memories, but I would shrink from visiting those eras again. That girl has mountains and friends and new ideas to comfort her now. She knows that her mind and her beauty and her soul are nothing short of holy, and should be treated as such.

By sharing our memories with the intent to inspire and not to frighten, the girls of our past selves and of the future heal and reclaim their power. After all, there is so much to look forward to. The air is still sweet and fresh after dark, and I still welcome the hope of new love. Somewhere beyond the moss and vines, true freedom awaits. And it will find a fierce, warm, and intoxicating home in my arms.

Confronting the Bullies on the Bus

Can you remember a bully from your school years? Did you ever confront him or her? I remember our elementary school bully. He teased me mercilessly for having a weird name and a tendency to blush. I slapped him in the face once and got sent to the principal’s office. So unfair, I thought.

Stormy Rich, an 18-year-old Florida high school student, recently experienced the same injustice when she stood up to a group of her peers for bullying a girl with special needs. The teenagers all ride the same bus to school, meaning the bullies have the rest of the students captive for torment during the morning rides. It sounds dramatic, I know, but as a former bus rider, myself, I remember how these things go.

As Rich said, according to Take Part News:

They would be mean to her, tell her she couldn’t sit on certain spots on the bus…just because she doesn’t understand doesn’t mean that should be happening to her.

Apparently Rich reported the bullying to her school’s officials but saw no action taken. It was then she decided to step in and confront the bullies, herself. It’s unclear what Rich actually said and did, but whatever it was caused her to be labeled as a bully and her bus-riding privileges revoked.

Regardless of what actually happened, the fact remains that bus drivers, school officials, parents, and all other adults involved in student life need to seriously examine how quickly and effectively they respond to reports of bullying. How long will it take us to step in to prevent emotional and physical violence?

From Take Part:

The bottom line is something more needs to be done to combat bullying in our schools. Three million students will be absent from school this month because of the emotional and physical toll of bullying, and according to the organization Ability Path, children with disabilities are significantly more likely than their peers to be the victims of this mistreatment.

As long as adults let bullying go unchecked and, as in Stormy’s case, punish those who rebel against it, then they are little more than bullies, themselves, in my book.

Were you or your children ever bullied? How did your school respond? Keep the conversation going in the comments section below.

The Lies We Bought as Love

The Lies We Bought As Love
By Piercarla Garusi

 

What are the lies we bought as love that are causing us to suffer?
What are the lies we bought as love that are causing us not to be happy?
What are the lies we bought as love that are causing us not to love ourselves?
What are the lies we bought as love that are causing us to put up with situations that are not good for us?
What are the lies we bought as love that are causing us to stay stuck in manipulative or abusive relationships or to be treated badly?
What are the lies we bought as love that cause us to be abusive?
What are the lies we bought as love that in the name of eliminating separation, are causing pain to people?
What are the lies we bought as love that cause us not to ascend?
If we look around, how many people are suffering of situations that can be avoided? And I am talking in families, workplaces, communities, and in the world at large.
There is so much judgment and bullying in society to young and adults, that is causing people to suffer from social anxiety, depression and even suicide. If we just found the statistics, I think we would be shocked.
Love and abuse are so confused and so much abuse is done in the name of love. And abuse might be not recognized or even justified by cultural or societal beliefs. How many lives have been destroyed by abuse?
There are so many rules and have tos on how to be loving, that are putting people in destructive traps thinking that that is care or communion.  
How right are we of the beliefs we are holding? And these beliefs might come from society, from culture, from religion, from education, from upbringing, from peers, etc., from the media.
Here are a few important points:
– awareness
We need to become aware of the lies we have bought as love, and see them as lies. They cause people, they cause you to suffer – would God/Source/Consciousness, however concept you have of Him/Her, ever want us to suffer? The answer is absolutely no.  These lies are preventing a positive change on the Planet. These lies also prevent our ascension.
– accountability/responsibility
How much denial or justification do we see of bad behavior, not simply from the people doing the behavior, but from society or culture? Until we become accountable, until we take responsibility for our behavior and we recognize it as such, we will not be able to change.
blame/guilt
Many people do not want to recognize how they have behaved because unfortunately the world is still functioning from blame, guilt and wrongness. We need to get out to that paradigm, because it is preventing people from changing, it is preventing the Planet from healing, and it is keeping the behavior in place. Yes, the behavior might be wrong, but we need to take away the label of wrong as judgment. It was a choice the person made out of their consciousness, probably out of the teachings they had received in their life.  As they recognize the lies they hold and let them go, they can make a better choice for themselves and for the whole.
respect
We need to enter in a paradigm of sacred respect for each individual, without exception, on this Planet. Once we recognize the uniqueness and truth of each person, much healing will take place.
And probably the best question we can ask ourselves is:
As the Infinite Beings we truly are, what does it mean to Love? And start from there …
Piercarla Garusi Copyright 2011
 
Piercarla Garusi is a spiritual coach and painter. Much of her coaching work is currently focused on improving the way we treat one another, with new workshops just being created. More information can be found on www.pgcoaching,co.uk. Her spiritual paintings ‘Art from the Soul’ are for healing and a shift in consciousness. You can find more explanation, view them, find information on exhibitions and healing projects on www.piercarla.paintings.co.uk.    
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