Tag Archive | manipulation

Reactive Abuse – Abusive Crazy Making Behavior

One of the biggest questions I have always asked is, “Am I crazy?”  When I am dealing with my abusive ex-husband or my abusive father, at times they have both made me feel crazy.  Whenever I allowed myself to lose my temper and react terribly to their behavior has been equally as frustrating.

My personal belief is I am responsible for my own reaction and behavior regardless of what the other person says or does. I have lost my temper on more than one occasion with my ex-husband in the past, and even recently with my father because my patience for manipulative abusive behavior is extremely short.  In some of these situations it is very likely I was exhibiting what is called Reactive Abuse.  Worse, while questioning my own personal sanity, my ex-husband has stated I am the crazy one in his emails, and even my father’s recent email said something on that sort.  They do often refer to this type of exchange as ‘crazy making’ behavior and this is  a guaranteed way to make sure your response is never right.

I remember one-time a friend said this, “You are not dealing with a normal situation, so how could you expect to feel normal?”

Crazy-Making types of behavior:

  • Blocking and Diverting
  • Blame Shifting
  • Gaslighting or Trivializing
  • Twisting the Truth
  • Manipulation
  • Passive Aggressive

This statement is something I have remembered throughout all the years whenever I start asking myself if I am crazy.  Then I remind myself to really look at the sources that are making this false statement.  Oftentimes I have had to contact a rational third party to ask them if the situation was ‘irrational’ and they usually confirm my thoughts.

My abusive ex-husband was emotionally & verbally abusive for more than 15 years.  He was abusive when we were dating, married and even while we have been divorced.  So many of the things he does with our daughter are just attempts to lash out at me.  I think that is what hurts most of all that as a mother I cannot protect my daughter from being a pawn in these sick games.  So many of his actions have been designed to get a reaction from me so he could say, “Look at how you are behaving?”  These are also designed to make sure he can say, “We both said things we didn’t mean.”  This takes the attention off of his behavior.

Some of the statements I remember him saying were the exact same things I would have stated about his behavior.  Then here he was telling me I was doing the same thing.  Then of course my rational mind would start questioning, “Am I doing that?”

  • “You are trying to hurt me but in turn you are hurting our daughter. “
  • “I am trying to be patient here but I am not getting much help from you.”
  • “Of course if we could have flexibility with one another this would not be necessary but you have chosen to go by the decree”

Comments made by my ex-husband to me, typically to make me feel like I am doing something wrong, doing the same thing to him or that I am the one who is unreasonable.  Almost all of his emails contain comments that make me feel defensive and as if I needed to respond to him.  Learning how to read his emails and only respond to facts or questions was really helpful in learning not to engage with him.

Today, I am very grateful I have a good marriage and a very peaceful household.  It is nice to feel safe in my own home.  My life has only been ‘healthy’ for a few years now and it sometimes still feels foreign to me.  It is because of my healthy home-life that I realized how unacceptable my recent work environment was and why I made the decision to resign.

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Abusive People Are Everywhere – Signs of Abuse

Now that I know what characteristics are in abusive people it is amazing how easy they are to spot.  Sometimes it is almost disturbing how similar they behave.  As Lundy Bandcroft mentioned in his book, “It is almost like they graduated from the same school of abuse.”

We have a house that really couldn’t sell in this economy so we decided to rent it and hired a property management company to handle it for us.  We really had very little encounters with the property manager over the year the tenants rented it.  However during that time, other than collecting the rent and giving us our portion, he really was not managing the property at all.  The true issues happened when he let the tenants fall out of a lease and we ended up with 3 weeks notice for their moving out.  Every email he would send the tenants would say something like, “I am sorry Mr. Blank but I believe your lease requires you stay until 11/30 but we will have to refer to Mrs. Blank on that one.”  What really got me was how the emails were so apologetic to the tenants and constant put the ball back in my court.

So after repeated emails where he made those types of comments I asked him, “Are you working for us or the tenants?  Are you managing this property or am I?”  Apparently that struck a cord with him because he sent me this very aggressive email that stated he had been managing property for over 30 years and if we could find someone who knew more than he did then he would gladly release us from the contract.  There was more to this email but he also CC his attorney in the email.  Plus when I had a phone conversation with this man and asked why the tenants were no longer in a lease, he asked me if I had called to request that and I said I thought that was why I hired a management company.  Then he said, “People often mistakenly expect more from their physicians.” and then went on to tell me about which president allowed tenants more rights than landlords.  The whole time I am thinking spare me the history lesson.  So he stated that he knew more than anyone else when it comes to managing property (grandiosity?).  Then stating history information that tries to state how intelligent he is and how much he knows.

So I decided that evening it was time to let him go and sent him a professional email with signed documents releasing him from managing our property.  In the morning I noticed a text message on my phone from a telephone number I had not programed into my phone.  It said, “Don’t send me emails after business hours, we will look at your information tomorrow.  We have hundreds of happy clients we manage.  You are very much expendable and happily terminated!”  It was really strange to get this text message from someone I was doing business with and was not in a relationship with.  After this he would not release the property back into our control for a week.  We were unable to do anything with this property until he let it go.

Later he sent me documents that stated he terminated us.  My husband said with humor, “Let me get this straight, he terminated you after you terminated him?”  It was ironic how this little situation seemed so familiar to me.  If he treats me that way when I am a customer, makes me wonder what he treats his significant other like.  When we spoke to the tenants they mentioned how he had stated how impossible, irrational and basically said I was ‘crazy’ to them.  They had met me on more than one occasion and did not get that impression.  This sounded so much like the situation with my abusive ex-husband where he tried to tell people I was crazy.

What is the difference here between this business man and my abusive ex-husband?

  • Power – he truly enjoyed having the power to keep our property from us, refusing to sign the papers I sent him where we terminated the contract
  • Control – he wanted to be in control at all times by terminating us when we had terminated him, holding onto our property, sending a strange text message
  • Manipulation – he was playing both sides by twisting the conversations around, stating I was crazy, telling me he couldn’t understand why the tenants kept contacting us directly
  • Entitlement – he certainly believes he is the most knowledgeable property management firm in existence,  expecting automatic compliance because he considers himself special

These are the same underlying core issues that come from abuse.