Provoking Insecurity: A Nasty Power Trip


We probably all know those who get off on the pain, fear and insecurity of others. We probably register the techniques too, albeit at a subliminal level. But sometimes we are too kind, tolerant and forgiving to actually call these people out on their behaviour. We tell ourselves that we are imagining it, that it is a joke and they do not mean it; that their wounds are so much deeper and more serious than ours that we must tolerate the damage-inspired behaviour.

I would, here, flag up a couple of questions – and extend them to thoughts. Number One: What is the role of deliberate silence in your interaction with this person? Is there a pattern of anger followed by Sending to Coventry? Because, if there is, it is possible that the silent one knows that you struggle with this kind of punishment – and uses it with malice aforethought to control you and bring you to heel. Making others wait, fear, beg and grovel is the act of a tyrant and not a friend. Refusing to talk, shrugging off questions and laughing in the face of the distress this causes is not a sign of legitimate love and concern; it is a sure sign of one who thrives on mind games and subtle emotional torment.

I am not here talking about the angry huff, the sullen fury which most of us exhibit at some time in our lives. I am talking about a pattern of raging enjoyment and lust for power which happens at the drop of a hat and often in response to absolute trivia. I am talking about those who choose not to respond because they know, damn well, that the resulting silence will cause huge anxiety, fear and misery – and they get off on those emotions; in fact they feed upon them, gulping them down greedily.

Is your interaction with the other peppered with derogatory comments, sly asides and studied insults? Is criticism being used to shame and control you? I am not here talking about the inevitable arguments, and flying-off-the-handle angry words, we all get into at times. I am talking about constant, low-grade bullying, with nasty words, covert digs and verbal slaps. I am talking about the violent rape of self-esteem; the need to penetrate and tear to ribbons your inner essence, your sense of self, your confidence. A little word here, a nasty comment there; it all mounts up into a feeling of frozen uselessness and a deadly disorientation.

Do you dread certain scenarios because you know, from experience, that they will, with chill inevitability, set the other off, cause the simmering rage to come to the boil and spill over, burning everything in its reach? Are you, for example, a bundle of nerves at the start of long car journeys, or holidays, or social occasions? Has it ever occurred to you that the angry one probably clocked your fear and distress the first time – and is deliberately manipulating the situation so that it happens again and again?

This, my friends, is the true face of emotional abuse – and it is not pretty. True, it leaves no bruises, no cuts. The police do not need to be called to stop, temporarily, the flying fists and kicking feet. But the long-term effects are every bit as damaging, every bit as difficult to shrug off.


Because emotional abusers target the mind, the inner self, and plant emotional IEDs along the way. Anything can trigger those devastating explosions, even years after the relationship ended. Silence, for example, can cause a dirty bomb of terror to explode with no warning: Just a sudden blast and acute, wide-ranging agony.

Situations which are innocuous in themselves can ignite the fuse of destruction because they ape, in some crucial respects, the packages planted in the mind. Those who innocently trip over that wire are often genuinely baffled by the intensity of your response and the storm of tears which follow.

Silence is not always golden. I am not a great talker myself, but a long-lasting silence, for which there is no logical explanation, does trigger that body memory, that desolating fear, that terrible sense that I have to be the one to end it by apologising for whatever it was that caused the other to go quiet on me in the first place.

For most people, such a response is both unnecessary and, frankly, a bit gob-smacking, causing a, ‘Hey! You don’t need to say sorry! I’m the one who should be apologising!’ type of come-back.

For the control-obsessed few, your grovelling is like nectar and your apology, though obviously inadequate – and probably not as fulsome as it should be – is accepted, reluctantly, with the rider that you must learn from this and adapt your behaviour accordingly in order to stop provoking every situation.

But why is it that certain individuals get off on the vulnerable emotions of others? God, I wish I knew. I wish I genuinely understood this gnawing hunger, this desire to wound, this lust for control.

But I don’t. It is beyond my empathy. Yesterday’s second post was ‘inspired’ by seven of those IEDs being set off – two by mistake; the other five I am not sure about. The fire and fumes were intense, the emotional body parts widely scattered, the detonation pretty devastating. The dust is still settling. The crater in the centre of my psyche’s landscape gapes large. But I know, in my heart of hearts, that this is a weak echo of the original – and that any inner wounds re-opened are bleeding again for the purpose of healing, not further destruction.

I know, that is to say, that I will survive – and that, in time, these loud bangs and roadside dangers will abate; that the mines planted with ill-intent will, eventually, all have gone off.



Condoning Abuse

I freely confess that, last night – going to bed at 7.30 pm and cocooning myself in a King Sizex duvet – my mood was grim, my smile absent and my tank all-but empty. Little incidents, on top of the accident last week, have chipped away at my physical confidence, and allowed me access to unhealed scar tissue (metaphorically) which needed to be removed so that fresh blood could cleanse the site and proper healing could begin.

I have, as stated many times before, weak boundaries when it comes to other people’s behaviour and attitude towards me. I have come to call this my weak filter in that it is a sieve which lets the detritus through as well as the good stuff.

This weak filter has a serious downside, however: It causes the abused, time after time, to blur the boundaries of good sense and to allow people who have sided with the abusers – and, indeed, the abusers themselves – to Limbo-dance back under the door of their lives.  Why? Because the filter is not strong enough to say, ‘They have wronged me. They can bugger off!’ Instead, they go into a melted huddle of self-doubt, thinking, ‘What if I have read this wrong? Why can’t friends like both of us?’

In a mutually-agreed divorce/split up, it is, I think, possible to remain on good terms with both parties because sides do not have to be taken: The relationship has just run its course. However, when a marital ending involves some form of abuse, sides cannot be avoided – and, in the end, it does come down to this : One person’s word against the other. In other words, people are being asked – however unfairly in their eyes – whether they believe that Person A was abused or whether they actually think he/she insane, demented, a Drama Queen/King and making it all up. There is no other alternative. There is no way of marrying (pun deliberate) these two starkly opposing viewpoints. There is no way of remaining on more than superficially good terms with both if one is a friend or member of the wider family. There is no way of remaining close to the abused on paper if you actually side with the abuser’s way of seeing him/her – and vice versa.

For too long we allow other people to tell us that we are wrong, that it is possible to avoid taking sides. Those who side with the abuser, and give the abused sparse and superficial engagement, do not count as true friends any more. Their decision to take the easy way out indicates, to me, that they never were strong foundation friends anyway.

An element of ambivalence is possible in many relationship breakdowns. It is easy to see, in other words, that both were at fault, both contributed to the problem. But abuse is far more black and white, isn’t it? Either Person A abused Person B or he/she did not and Person B is a deluded liar. The bottom line is this: Those who side with the abuser are tacitly saying that, in their view, the abused is lying, deluded, mentally ill and losing his/her marbles. Why the hell would anyone who has been abused want such people as friends, eh? Why the hell do so many people escaping abusive relationships delude themselves on this subject for so long?!

The last thing I want to say is this – and it is stark: All abusers claim that they were provoked and will often warn their prey, ‘Don’t provoke me or else!’ But don’t we, as sentient human beings, have a duty to control our tempers where possible – and to admit that we are in the wrong when we lash out at another?

Condoning abuse because you want to believe that the abuser is incapable of such behaviour is still an act of implicit permission and approval. It is the kind of attitude which, all over the world, allows abuse and worse to continue. It is saying that it’s acceptable to behave in cruel, controlling – and, in some cases, violent – ways – or, perhaps even worse, that certain sections of society (women, children, people of different colour, belief and sexual orientation) deserve such treatment because of who, and what, they are.

It terrifies me to think that there is, apparently, this inherent and unspoken carte blanche at work in our world: That somehow it is acceptable to make abusive comments, or launch unprovoked attacks, upon the LGTB community, women, people whose religious beliefs do not accord with our own. That, in some sick and twisted way, this does not count as bona fide abuse and is seen, by some, as just desserts. That, to belong to a certain sub-section of society is reason enough to be attacked. That blame is cast upon a whole religion, or nation, for a war that happened a thousand years ago. And, finally, that the ultimate provocation is triggered by who or what you are rather than anything you have said or done.

As long as we, corporately and individually, are fudging this issue, and saying, ‘That’s not really abusive because he/she/it deserved it…’ we will continue to allow abusers into our homes, schools, churches, workplaces and positions of extreme authority. As long as we see charm of manner and good looks as proof of decent character and integrity, we will miss the paedophiles who crawl into our children’s beds at dead of night. As long as we blame the abused and protect the abusive, the darkness will continue to grow. As long as we allow the weapon of ‘reasonable’ doubt to win, on the grounds of fear (of giving offence; of getting it wrong; of enraging the mighty and powerful), the current level of wide-spread abuse will continue to flourish and expand.

Abuse is abuse. Nothing warrants it. No provocation is sufficient excuse. It is wrong.

Let’s Sweep Abuse under the Carpet!

Yes, that attitude has worked so well during the past couple of millennia, hasn’t it? Seems we, as a race, are only prepared to look at certain things when they involve celebrities getting in on the twisted, dark act.

But all this attention upon the Jimmy Saviles and Rolf Harrises of this world is giving a false impression: That being rich and famous and, in some of these abusers’ eyes, above the laws which govern lesser mortals, means that such people feel they have a right to take what they want from children and teenagers, in a way that normal, working people, of course, do not.

Anyone who abuses starts from a position of inner superiority, of entitlement, of seeing others as possessions, objects. The high profile cases involving the rich and spoilt are not actually opening the can of abusive worms up in any useful way. Why?Because we are so busy searching for (and, at some level, enjoying in a sick, ‘Thank God it wasn’t me being fondled!’ way) those who were fiddled about with in the dim and distant past by known perverts that we forget about the day-to-day abuse of those who have no voice, no power, no rights and no Name to attach their ongoing terror and pain to.

The legal system, which lets down thousands of abused people, suddenly finds the wherewithal to prosecute the Named. High Profile means High Turnover and is fabulous for business.

The Great and the Bad are exceptions, glittering advertisements for a show. They are the salacious, newsworthy side of abuse. They are Soap Opera. But, away from High Courts and the Famed Shamed, we have thousands of vulnerable people, many of them women and children, who are enduring horrific abuse every day – and, because they are not attractive, or wealthy, or talented, or, in many cases, articulate, we would rather they remained anonymous dirt under life’s Carpet of Secrets. We don’t care until they die in the public eye and become horrific statistics and tragic reconstructions on the television.

How is it that we have swallowed this, ‘If it is not High Drama, it is not abuse?’ crap? Do victims have to be buried in forest glades, on life support in some ICU (their battered bodies unrecognisable), rented out to Daddy’s sleazy friends at five, pawned by Mummy to her boyfriend in exchange for drugs or booze, kept off school so that the authorities are not privy to the signs of Non-Accidental Injury in order for us to act on hunches?

How is it that we stopper our ears to those trying to disclose and call them delusional, or liars, of Drama Kings and Queens? How is it that we still fall for a charming and convincing act by the adults rather than listening to the faltering confessions of the child?

How is it that we stamp hard on our intuition, our sense of danger, of something being seriously amiss – and then, when it is too late, cry out, ‘If only I had listened/visited/intervened…’?

How is it that posts like this are judged inappropriate in some way, and go mysteriously missing, or have a limited shelf life?

The abused, deprived of help from society, very often trawl the Internet looking for answers, looking for help, looking for validation – and looking for a platform, often anonymous, in which they can share their grief and hurt feelings away from source.

Our tendency to sweep things under the carpet, to fear confrontation, to give baddies the benefit of the doubt has given us Trump. What a perfect symbol of the human reluctance to face things he is: A known felon, with court cases pending, a thug and a bully and a racist, yet still the President Elect. Why? Because, nearly 50% of the voting public swept reality under the carpet by failing to vote. Because they felt powerless? Because they did not want to face the fact that an emotionally abusive, Psychopathic man was going to be let loose upon the Nuclear Button? Because they, like so many others, assumed that his reputation was nothing but convenient media hype and that he’s a good guy really?

We in the UK are no better, frankly. We have allowed the Nigel Farages of this world to peddle their vile rhetorical wares. We have allowed hatred of foreigners to rise exponentially, fanning the flames of xenophobia and racial prejudice. We have opened the door to abuse: Of Refugees, of those with different coloured skins, of those whose beliefs do not conform to white Protestantism, to women and children who do not look like archetypal poverty-stricken victims.

Yes, the abuse perpetrated by Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter (to name but three) was beyond-belief ghastly. But there are still thousands of abusers out there, hiding behind closed doors or emerging in full view of the camera to spout their sanctioned hatred and filth.


Oh, we can look at him now and say, ‘Ooh, I always thought he was a bit creepy!’ – but what good is that to his victims, eh?

We can lament after the event and wail, ‘I had a feeling something wasn’t right?’ – but that can never bring the murdered child back to life, nor can it ease the suffering of the beaten girlfriend, the sexually-abused children, the terrorised spouses of both genders.

Let us rip that carpet off the floor and throw the bloody thing away. It hides things which should not be hidden. It allows the awful cycle of rape, violence, racism and murder to continue. It allows humanity to labour under the illusion that appearance matches character – and that the cries of women and children are hormones and tantrums respectively, and those of men, signs of weakness.

We allow abusers to rule our countries. Why? Because we still confuse stubbornness and brutality with strength. We still see the willingness to go to war, or pass laws excluding some races, as a sign of security and concern for the greater good of mankind – instead of the Advanced Playground Bullying it actually is more often than not.

Screaming at an Abuser: Hyperbole or horror?

Repressed rage is dangerous.  A scream is an excellent way of defining exaggeration for the purpose of emphasis – and this post is one long shriek. It is written in the present tense as another way of emphasising, this time through immediacy. 

Thus, those who read this post and others like it, there will be some who see it as exaggerated over-reaction and hyperbolic excess. Just remember, however: One person’s hyperbole is another’s hurt and horror…

How dare you take me out for a date and then flirt with someone else? Who the hell do you think you are anyway? Adonis? You’re not that special, let me tell you right now.

That is just abuse. There is no excuse for it. It doesn’t matter whether you are married or single: Respect for women’s feelings is a vital part of any relationship – and you show none: Certainly none this night and, in truth, precious little on previous ‘dates’.

Of course I mind when you tell me you have had sex with her. What a fucking stupid question to ask! How crass! How totally insensitive! How do you expect me to react? With excitement? Why do I feel I have to lie and pretend to be fine about it? That is so sick. Perhaps you hope it’ll develop into a threesome, during which the two of us will adore your body in turn? Knowing you, I am surprised you don’t mention this possibility. Perhaps it doesn’t occur to you at the moment…

Your actions drive me as close to suicide as I have ever been – and I am not, by nature, someone who wants to opt out of life. Does it ever occur to you – and can you give a toss – that I drink an entire bottle of cheap whisky after one of your cruel little asides? Fortunately for me – because I am precious as a human being and worth far more than your cheap tricks and endless malice – I have no head for alcohol and am violently, viciously sick for hours. Otherwise, I could die of alcohol poisoning.

Do you know – or give a shit – that I have taken a knife to my wrist and carved a little runnel, which bleeds a fair amount and leaves a thin white scar? Fortunately, my intent is to cause harm rather than death. I want the release of blood – and I get it.

Do you know – or  can you put two and two together – why so many glass areas in my abode are broken beyond repair? Windows smashed; glass door reduced to dangerous shards; wine glasses hurled with incoherent rage against rented walls. Each time you drop another unwelcome piece of information, or spend serious hours trying to get off with yet another girl in front of me, I – powerless and raging – take it out not on you (who so richly deserve it), but on my home (which does not) or myself (ditto). I throw an alarm clock through the window the day you ignore me for an entire hour while you chat up Jane. The glass door to the awful bedroom is ravaged after I get into serious trouble at work because I cannot cope with the way you behave.

All that rage, suppressed, burning, poisonous and deadly. All those tears, swallowed back, choked down, denied, denied, denied. All those times when I feel I have no voice, no rights, no rule book to consult – and no idea that I am in an abusive contract.

I am furious now because it is such a waste of who I am and could have been. I do not want these emotional scars – and I do not think I deserve them either. Oh, I have taken on the blame: I am very adept – with a bit of help – at taking the lion’s share of the fault in every situation. Yes, I have a choice – and I choose you. But you have a choice too – and you choose to to indulge in misogynistic and disrespectful behaviour: You choose to abuse, because you CAN, because you want to.

I am screaming these words out now as if now were all those broken, stifled, silenced nows down the years; as if, in some way, I have the power to call up that young woman and allow her to express the buried anguish, the very present grief and banked outrage.

How dare you think that she/I are imagining things? How dare you punish pain’s emotional reactions, when your behaviour is what opened the nerves and made them cringe and wince in the first place? How dare you accuse me of over-reacting when my responses are, and always were, the body’s desperate attempt to cope with emotional and mental battering?

And, finally, how dare you use my broken and vulnerable self for your own satisfaction? How dare you call any of that ‘making love’: What a complete travesty of love it is.

These words have lain coiled in my belly – heavy as a slumbering but dangerous snake – for far too long. Oh, I have tried to express them – but you have a clever answer to everything, haven’t you? You can trot out trite psycho-therapeutic theories and sayings until the cows come home, without showing one iota of genuine emotion or breaking a sweat.

Is your true crime treating me as one who is interchangeable? Jerking me on the string of implied threat concerning other women? Gaslighting me to the brink of extinction? Lying to me in order to further your own ends?

No, though all of these are serious. The worst? The fact that you enjoy torturing me, though you will never have the guts to admit it.

The saddest thing of all?  I now realise that, girding my loins and giving tongue to all the yelling, the justified fury and fighting back is a waste of breath, a waste of emotion – because you simply do not care.

And your ability to summons up the hyperbole of emotionless rhetoric is second to none…

Control: ‘When Love Goes Wrong’ – Copycat-ism?

Am I, in writing a post about abuse based on a book I am reading, acting in a plagiarising, copycat manner? I think not. Were I someone who is, in so-writing, breaking new ground – that is to say, a topic I have never touched before – there might be some truth in the ‘Copycat!’ cry from childhood. 

I am aware that some writers do mimic others, in a Copycat kind of way; I am also aware that the unscrupulous can leap upon the bandwagon of fashionable distress in order to make a fortune.

In my view, however, anyone who wants to mimic the suffering of an abused other for vicarious thrills and attention needs his or her head examined. 

I am reading a book, recommended by a friend, called ‘When Love Goes Wrong‘ (by Ann Jones and Susan Schechter). It is harrowing, distressing – and a huge eye-opener.

Yesterday, before the book arrived, I looked in here to see how many of my four hundred posts deal with abuse or bullying. Even without typing in categories more specific than that, it came up as thirty-seven posts, around a tenth of my total output so far. On the blog I had before this one (which I deleted, through fear, in the autumn of 2015), that percentage was far higher.

And yet, when I started blogging, nearly five years ago, I had no intention of writing about such things. I was, back then, fresh out of teaching and deep into both denial and self-blame/exculpatory explanations.

But my main motivation for avoiding this topic was unearthed by a comment made by a new reader today: I did not want to face, let alone challenge, the status quo (however emotionally impoverished and painful) because the alternative seemed to be an abyss of loneliness, abandonment, homelessness and deprivation.

And this leads me to something that, I suspect, many people do not fully understand. Abusers are rarely human demons – and they do not spend all day, every day, tormenting others. The problem is that they swing from one extreme to another, so that you never know where you are – or what is going to set them off. One of the extremes – which has, amongst other names, the phrase Love Bombing attached to it – is charm, love, apparent desire to mend all fences and reassurance so convincing that it is terribly easy to assume that the other extreme is either an aberration or something you have provoked.

This book stopped me in my tracks for many reasons, not the least of which was dry-throated, tear-brimming gut-recognition. But also a true understanding that abused people respond with delight and relief to the calm phases and devote considerable amounts of energy to producing what they hope is the right environment for such times to flower and never disappear.

Even when it becomes clear, to THEM, that they are deluding themselves, it is nightmarishly difficult and confronting to face the truth: That the abuser seeks control, is able to control him or herself and chooses to behave the way he or she does.

Other people can make things worse when they say, ‘Look at what a difficult childhood he/she had…’ or, ‘He/she is not aware, and therefore cannot change, his/her behaviour…’

Both of these statements are fallacious. A great many people come from difficult, even abusive, backgrounds. They do not all go on to abuse others. The lack of self-awareness one is even more stark in its lack of truth. If friends and family do not see the true picture, this is evidence that the abuser CAN behave appropriately, does have control over his/her rage and is highly selective in terms of who gets to see the dark side.

The phrase ‘Behind Closed Doors’ was not created for nothing, you know. Abusers choose anger – and, in some cases, fists and boots and weapons – as a means of control. It is not about the fact that – to give one example – their parents died young. If it were, all other siblings within that particular family would exhibit identical behaviour. It is not about your provocation. Otherwise, everyone in the world who wound them up would receive that physical or emotional backlash.

My own view is that abusers know EXACTLY what they are doing. They are, basically, doing that THEY want, indulging their appetite for power and control – and fanning the flames of deep sadism and hatred of men (if they are women) or misogynism (if men).

If their behaviour creates an environment in which they are getting their own way – and it usually does – what possible incentive is there for them to stop? If they gave up the abuse, they would also have to give up all that lovely power and control – and they don’t want that, now do they?

Now you could argue that they come from a background which has produced a vast sense of powerlessness and are stuck in learned behaviours from their early years. I went along with this kind of empathetic thinking for years. But, really, even if this is true of some abusers, so what? Many of us emerge from childhood feeling powerless – but do not go on to abuse other human beings. We empower ourselves in other ways. Many of us seek help in order to undo the less helpful behaviours we learned as children.

Abusers almost never seek help – and, if they do, are not above using the psycho-therapeutic tools they have learned to give their abuse of others legal status.

I think society is so set up to excuse poor behaviour on the basis of childhood trauma, that the victims become demonised all too often and the vital point – that abusers make choices – is all too often forgotten.

I am roughly half way through the above book. It is brilliant and disturbing and so true to life. I thoroughly recommend it. I also highly recommend that people stop blaming the abused for their abusers’ control-lust and its subsequent behaviours – and look at the reality: That we all make choices about behaviour – and, sadly, that includes abusive behaviour.

It is a sad indictment of our society that my thirty-seven (now thirty-eight) abuse-related posts are amongst my most popular (for a certain definition of that word) and widely-read. It is tragic that so many people feel the need to write, and read, such posts, or books, because humanity has not yet found an effective way of dealing with bullies and abusers – and the cycle goes on in its dreadful, destructive way.

It is monstrous that we are STILL blaming the victim, and making excuses for the abuser, right across society: In schools, in relationships, in families, out in the world.

Nobody deserves abuse.

End of…


Jump! Abuse’s Primary Command…at an end!


Tremble of terror. Muscles lock in fear. Egg shells crunch underfoot.

‘When?’ – an ameliorative whisper. ‘How high?”

‘Not telling you when! That’s for me to know. Nor the height. It’ll be as high, long or sideways as I say…’

No way out. No way of avoiding. No run, or swim, or cycle ride will do – unless any of those become the only thing that WILL do, in which case, watch out, and hasten, hasten…

‘Now! I’m waiting! Don’t you care about me?’

Legs pistoning. Heart bumping and thumping with adrenaline overload. Trying to get it right, to time it to perfection, to land gracefully – and to smile gratefully at the honour of being given yet another chance to please, to atone for sins not consciously perpetrated.

‘Try a bit harder to look enthusiastic, to give it some spirit, can’t you?’

Head dropping. Fake smile plastered. Body aching. Never, in a million years, will you jump high enough, or fast enough.

‘Jump, damn you. Jump!’

Digestive system slowing, stopping. Tears stinging. A Games lesson, from a sadistic teacher, with no end in sight…



Command ignored!

Running, laughing, whooping, smiling, heel-kicking, diving – all ecstasy!


The bell has rung, finally, on that double period of torture – and the starved pupil is free!

Jump? No more – unless I choose to, in my own time and place!

Jump? Yes! For me! For sheer joy! For life and love and happiness and health!


Unconditional love and abuse

The thing about Gaslighting is that it can make one’s thought processes, decisions and life itself look far more complicated that is actually the case – and even the thought of love can seem like a complication better avoided.

My act of adding the word ‘deserve’ to a post which was about love may well have startled some readers; it may even have got one or two people’s backs up. The ploy was deliberate. It was done to make two, very important, points, one overt and the other subliminal.

The first was an assertion of my own will and my right to decide who I want to befriend, love and keep in my life. The second was a triggering, possibly subconsciously, of something too many of us experience with certain other people: Only being loved conditionally; having our lack of perfection held over us – like, as one of my regular readers said, a Sword of Damocles – with the rider that, if we don’t come up to scratch, that attention and love will be withdrawn and the sword of rejection will decapitate us.

Long term abuse produces such uncertainty and fear in the mind, such lack of self-esteem and such a need to please that it is only too easy for almost anyone to dictate the course of an abused person’s life with chilling ruthlessness – simply by using the precision tool of emotional blackmail: If you do/say/think that, I won’t love you anymore. You do not deserve love because you are A, you think B, you do C. In other words, ‘You have to be an A* standard human being in order to merit my superior form of loving.’

One of the real tragedies of sustained abuse is that it wears away the natural angry response to such an assertion. The abused ones come to see the abuser as a kind of God – certainly a person of superior powers and unquestioned authority. His or her beliefs, needs, rules and utterances have the same kind of power the Bible has over Believers. Just as many Christians secretly believe that they will go to Hell if they do not abide by the laws of their church, so do the abused come to believe that they will face the hell of being unloved – and completely unlovable – if they do not do as their abuser says, in everything. Instead of anger when faced with a clearly ridiculous, and harmful, rule, they often feel terror – the terror of imminent loss and rejection, of being replaced by someone else, if they do not do as they are told.

Instead of a healthy, ‘Oh, using the old Sword of Damocles Ploy, are you? Don’t bother: I’m not playing!’ the abused grovel and weep and do anything they can to turn the abuser’s wrath aside, to make those magic words of forgiveness and ‘love’ appear, to be back in the other’s favour.

Now, I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I am not intending to become an abuser myself. I do not wish to hold others to ransom in this way, or to demand the impossible in terms of their behaviour in sick exchange for my love. But, by the same token, I am no longer prepared to have anyone offer me the weak skimmed milk of their manipulative ‘love’ in exchange for my unquestioning obedience and reverence.

Yesterday’s post, which made me cry, was an acknowledgement, finally, that some people in our lives harm us; that their influence is malign and that our constant attempts to please them, calm their anger, prove that we are good enough actually backfire because we are feeding into a psychological bottomless pit. Such people never feel that they have enough. No matter how rich they are, they feel that they are on the permanent bread-line and deserve more as their right. No matter how beautiful/handsome and loving/sexy their partners are, this is never good enough: There are always flaws which, until sorted, cause a cooling of the ardour; there are always areas of over-spiritedness, of going against the rules, which need to be crushed and removed from the relationship dynamic. Until the ‘loved’ one has been reduced to little more than a grey and obedient slave, the abusive type is not satisfied – and, of course, once the other’s spirit has been reduced to hopelessness, then the self-proclaimed God figure will complain that the slave never laughs anymore and has stopped showing any sexual enthusiasm!

My boundaries now exclude manipulators, Narcissists and other borderline personality disorder types – and, yes, if necessary, I am quite happy to see a metaphorical Sword of Damocles descend upon their self-satisfied heads! Gaslighters are incapable of love as most of us know it – and giving them our love is unwise at best, dangerous and enormously destructive, even fatal, at worst.

Yesterday’s post represented the start of a very clear stance. I have now, after bitter experience, come to recognise the signs of the Gaslighter – and I am not prepared to entertain the fuckers in the precious rooms of my life.  Why should I? I am not a masochist! I have finally seen that I did not deserve to be manipulated in this way; that it was not a flaw in me (other than my empathy and compassion for others) so much as a condition enjoyed by others. And that trying – as I have done for so long – to get these people back as friends/loved ones when they are, once again, punishing me with silence and disapproval, is an act of wanton stupidity and lack of self-respect.

To only love another when that person finally becomes perfect is sad. If I love someone, I am loving who they are – and that includes flaws. But there are some people it is dangerous to give unconditional love to. We all have flaws and imperfections in this life. Most of us are aware of them and make at least a rudimentary attempt at sorting out the most damaging of them. Those who habitually indulge in Gaslighting simply do not care. They recognise flaws, sometimes, but have no interest in, or intention of, changing the way they are because, in their eyes, they are the perfect/enlightened/sorted people and it is others who have to live up to their impossible standards. Besides, it is far more fun, for such people, to play endless mind games than it is to actually have recognisably human relationships!

My capacity for unconditional love, which is huge, no longer embraces life’s Gaslighters!