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the abusive patterns from the cultic relationship long after the abuser is gone.

In some cases the abuse is so deep that the patterns will be a continual discovery years down the road. We are not talking about flinching away from someone when they raise their hand at you, which is something that can be expected when a person is coming out of an abusive relationship. We are talking about patterns of behavior that appear to have no connection to anything and are dismissed as odd by observers.

In some cases my reaction to the abuse I went through would have isolated me even further if I did not have the unconditional love in my life that I have now. We are talking about heavy drinking, promiscuous behavior, controlling tendencies, erratic mood swings, the appearance of uncontrollable reactions, financial instability, health issues, the list goes on.

I basically ended up living exactly what my former partner had told others that I was like -- unreliable, unstable, and untrustworthy.

Because I had been isolated for years from people that loved me and knew me my changes were shocking. The natural first reaction is to distance oneself from a person that exhibits these types of behaviors. This is exactly what the abuser counts on. Some people will never be saved from the abusive cycle because they are completely abandoned by friends and family. Some will even commit suicide and just end the pain. I'm lucky. I am here to talk about what happened to me in the first person.

According to Judith Herman M.D. in the book, Trauma and Recovery " recovery unfolds in three stages, the central task of the first stage is the establishment of safety. The central task of the second stage is remembrance and mourning. The central task of the third stage is reconnection with ordinary life."

Herman's model simplifies the complexity of the recovery process. Everyone goes through their recovery in different paces and steps but there are some very core ways that this happens.

What Herman recommends, as the first step into the recovery process is also similar to what the experts recommend for someone coming out of a cult -- reconnection to family and friends. There is a critical need to establish a safety net for the person that has been through a cultic relationship.

From my own experience, I did not want to make phone calls for help let alone conversation. I did not know how to talk to people anymore. My life seemed like such a mess. My friends and family basically made a nuisance out of themselves just to get me to connect.

My friends and family saw someone that had dramatically changed in less then two years as a result of this relationship/marriage. My health had deteriorated; I wasn't eating or sleeping properly. I wasn't capable of taking care of myself let alone my basic needs. Up to this point my life consisted of doing whatever was possible to not upset my former partner and to keep my commitments to him. It is like I had forgotten how to care for myself and I had to relearn how to even eat three meals a day!

My friends and family had to step in to help me. I did not see what I was doing to myself. My thoughts were of the nature that I was getting what I deserved. That I was cursed, no man would want me because I was not only divorced after a two year marriage but I was also lead to believe that I could not have children. These were issues that I was verbally battered with by my former partner. Most likely at this point didn't take much for me to believe this all of myself. I was completely without "self" and was completely open to whatever belief that my former partner wanted me to have.

In the next issue of Shattered Hearts I will explore the second stage in recovery which is remembrance and mourning.

May we begin the healing of our Shattered Hearts....

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Have you or someone you know ever experienced the following by a boyfriend, husband or intimate partner?

  • name-calling or put-downs

  • isolation from family or friends

  • withholding of money

  • actual or threatened physical harm

  • sexual assault

These are examples of domestic violence, which includes partner violence, family violence, spouse abuse, child abuse, battering, and wife beating.

This violence takes many forms, and can happen once in a while or all the time. Although each situation is different, there are common warning signs - "red flag" behaviors - to look out for, including those behaviors listed above (see Section 4 for a list). Knowing these signs is an important step in preventing and stopping violence.

In this booklet, we will focus on domestic violence as partner violence, defined as violent or controlling behavior by a person toward a partner, usually a wife, girlfriend, or lover. Although the partner is the primary target, violence is often directed toward children as well, and sometimes toward family members, friends, and even bystanders in attempts to control their partner.

Approximately 95 percent of the victims of domestic violence are women. However, violence also happens in both gay and lesbian relationships. and in a small number of cases, by women against men. 4. Warning List This list identifies a series of behaviors typically demonstrated by batterers and abusive people. All of these forms of abuse, psychological, economic, and physical - come from the batterer's desire for power and control. The list can help you recognize if you or someone you know is in a violent relationship. check off those behaviors that apply to the relationship. The more checks on the page, the more dangerous the situation may be. Emotional and Economic Attacks *Destructive Criticism/Verbal Abuse: Name-calling; mocking; accusing; blaming; yelling; swearing; making humiliating remarks or gestures. *Pressure Tactics: Rushing you to make decisions through "guilt-tripping" and other forms of intimidation; sulking; threatening to withhold money; manipulating the children; telling you what to do. *Abusing Authority: Always claiming to be right (insisting statements are "the truth"); telling you what to do; making big decisions; using "logic." *Disrespect: Interrupting; changing topics; not listening or responding; twisting your words; putting you down in front of other people; saying bad things about your friends and family. *Abusing Trust: Lying; withholding information; cheating on you; being overly jealous. *Breaking Promises: Not following through on agreements; not taking a fair share of responsibility; refusing to help with child care or housework. *Emotional Withholding: Not expressing feelings; not giving support, attention, or compliments; not respecting feelings, rights, or opinions. *Minimizing, Denying & Blaming: Making Light of behavior and not taking your concerns about it seriously; saying the abuse didn't happen; shifting responsibility for abusive behavior; saying you caused it. *Economic Control: Interfering with your work or not letting you work; refusing to give you or taking your money; taking your car keys or otherwise preventing you from using the car; threatening to report you to welfare or other social service agencies. * Self-Destructive Behavior: Abusing drugs or alcohol; threatening suicide or other forms of self-harm; deliberately saying or doing things that will have negative consequences (e.g., telling off the boss).. * Isolation: Preventing or making it difficult for you to see friends or relatives; monitoring phone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go.. * Harassment: Making uninvited visits or calls; following you; checking up on you; embarrassing you in public; refusing to leave when asked.. Acts of Violence * Intimidation: Making angry or threatening gestures; use of physical size to intimidate; standing in doorway during arguments; out shouting you; driving recklessly.. * Destruction: Destroying your possessions (e.g., furniture); punching walls; throwing and/or breaking things.. * Threats: Making and/or carrying out threats to hurt you or others.. * Sexual Violence: Degrading treatment based on your sex or sexual orientation; using force or coercion to obtain sex or perform sexual acts.. * Physical Violence: Being violent to you, your children, household pets or others; Slapping; punching; grabbing; kicking; choking; pushing; biting; burning; stabbing; shoots; etc.. * Weapons: Use of weapons, keeping weapons around which frighten you; threatening or attempting to kill you or those you love.. from "Domestic Violence: The Facts" - A Handbook to STOP violence (courtesy of Peace At Home (formerly Battered Women Fighting Back), Boston)

Cults come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Categories of cults that are recruiting successfully today include:

Eastern meditation: characterized by belief in God-consciousness, becoming one with God. The leader usually distorts and Eastern-based philosophy or religion. Members sometimes learn to disregard worldly possessions and may take on an ascetic lifestyle. Techniques used: meditation, repeated mantras, altered states of consciousness, trance states.

Religious: marked by belief in salvation, afterlife, sometimes combined with an apocalyptic view. The leader reinterprets the Scriptures and often claims to be a prophet if not the messiah. Often the group is strict, sometimes using physical punishments such as paddling and birching, especially on children. Members are encouraged to spend a great deal of time proselytizing. (Note: included here are Bible-based neo-Christian and other religious cults, many considered syncretic since they combine beliefs and practices). Techniques used: speaking in tongues, chanting, praying, isolation, lengthy study sessions, many hours spent evangelizing, "struggle" (or criticism) and confession sessions.

Political, racist, terrorist: fueled by belief in changing society, revolution, overthrowing the "enemy" or getting rid of evil forces. The leader professes to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Often the group is armed and meets in secret with coded language, handshakes, and other ritualized practices. Members consider themselves an elite cadre ready to go to battle. Techniques used: paramilitary training, reporting on one another, guilt, fear, struggle sessions, instilled paranoia, long hours of indoctrination. -- Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Lalich and Tobias, Hunter House, 1993.