Abusive Women, Cults, Brainwashing and Deprogramming, Part I

My last article, How Abusive Women Brainwash You, examined similar brainwashing techniques used by cults, POW camps, political movements and abusive personalities such as narcissistic, borderline, histrionic and sociopathic women. It also explored where and how they diverge.

Specifically, cults break down your personality and belief system, then rebuild you and give you a new belief system. Whereas abusive women break you down and keep breaking you down until there’s nothing left. They don’t rebuild you nor do they have an ideology beyond, “It’s all about me and my feelings” and “I’m always right no matter how wrong I am.”

Over the next few weeks, I will publish a series of articles that will explore: a) the shared characteristics of cult victims and abused men; b) the similarities between abusive women’s courtship behaviors and cult recruitment; c) the way cults and emotional predators break you down and control you; and d) different ways to “break the spell” and come come out from under an abusive partner’s control.

Similarities Between Cult Victims and Abuse Victims

Bullies, narcissists, borderlines, histrionics and sociopaths like easy targets. They go after people who are kind, generous, trusting, eager to please, self-reflective, competent, talented or “gifted” and, most importantly, people who have a desire to cooperate or work things out and a non-confrontational personal style (Namie, 2003). Men of the men I work with became involved with their abusers during or after an event in their life that caused them significant distress like a divorce, the death of a loved one, a prolonged illness, etc.

Cults like easy prey, too. They typically target individuals who are in a state of heightened stress.

Much like emotional predators, cults seek individuals who have recently had a destabilizing experience such as a bad break-up, the death of a loved one, being fired or some other significant life stressor such as a young man who’s left for college and is on his own for the first time. During a period of heightened stress, certain people are more susceptible to an individual or group who claims to have all the answers and/or offers instant companionship or instant intimacy. Michael Langone, PhD has compiled a list of cult victim traits that are similar to the traits of abuse victims. The similar traits are:

  • Dependency: An intense desire for a sense of belonging, approval, acceptance and a fear of being alone.
  • Unassertiveness: Non-confrontational, people-pleasers who are reluctant to question authority.
  • Gullibility: A willingness to believe what another person says without critically thinking it through or challenging it.
  • Naive Idealism: The belief that everyone is good, has some redeeming quality or can change for the better.
  • Desire for Spiritual Meaning: The belief that life has a “higher purpose” or that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes people are just abusive jerks and there’s no deeper meaning attached to it, but good targets keep searching for it despite all evidence to the contrary.

The above personality traits and a state of heightened stress aren’t sufficient to brainwash a potential victim. A conscious knowledge or instinctual knowledge of mind control techniques is also required. Margaret Singer, PhD cites 6 conditions necessary for brainwashing or thought reform. Many cult leaders study these principles and know exactly what they’re doing.

Most abusive women have not studied these techniques. They seem to have an instinctual knowledge of them. [Please note: If they are aware of what they’re doing it’s highly likely that they’re full blown sociopaths and you should regard them as dangerous.]

Singer’s 6 conditions for thought reform:

1. “Keep the person unaware of what is going on and how he is being changed one step at a time.” Not a problem since most abusive women are only vaguely aware of what they’re doing or completely unaware.

2. “Control the person’s social and/or physical environment; especially control the person’s time.” She doesn’t want you talking to outsiders who might challenge the “reality” she feeds you or her authority.

3. “Systematically create a sense of powerlessness in the person.” She instills a sense of learned helplessness within you by placing you in no-win situations.

4. “Manipulate a system of rewards and punishments in order to inhibit the person’s natural personality and behavior.” The goal is to break you down and turn you into a hand puppet.

5. “Manipulate a system of rewards and punishments in order to promote the group’s ideology or belief system and group-approved behaviors.” In other words, she’s right. She’s always right. Don’t question her. Don’t challenge her. She always comes first. You live to serve.

6. “Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by leadership approval or executive order.” The group has a top-down, pyramid structure. “The leader must have verbal ways of never losing” (Singer, M., 1996, p.64-69).

Most abusive women are mental and verbal contortionists/escape artists. They can twist the most obvious set of facts into a Gordian knot or find ways to evade the conversation by changing the subject (derailing and tangenting) or attacking you on a new front.

Similarities Between Abusive Women’s Courtship Behavior and Cult Recruitment Techniques

Cults and abusers create feelings of guilt, covert and overt fear, powerlessness and dependency in their victims in several ways.

Manipulation, deception and “love bombing” are how cult recruiters and emotional predators get their foot in the door. They lure you in by misrepresenting themselves, lying, hiding their abusive nature and drugging you with praise and affection. Once they insinuate themselves into your life, the outright abuse ensues. First, let’s look at their seduction and relationship building tactics.

Manipulation and Deception. Both cult recruiters and emotional predators employ manipulation and deception to ensnare their targets. Initially, they hide their true natures and intentions and wear a carefully crafted, too-good-to-be-true persona. “Recruiters identify the specific needs or desires of their targets and play to them. They learn to pick up on a person’s fears and vulnerabilities and portray [themselves] accordingly” (Layton).

Abusive women, particularly histrionics, narcissists, sociopaths and borderlines, are natural chameleons and shape shifters. They intuitively discern what you want—e.g., sexy, sweet, adventurous, sporty, artsy, etc.—and play it and you to the hilt. As soon as they’re secure in your attachment, the facade drops away and the emotional and/or physical abuse starts. These women insidiously misrepresent themselves to their potential partners. Sometimes they’re impossible to detect until you’re in over your head.

Furthermore, most abusers aren’t abusive all the time. If they were nasty the majority of the time, psychologically healthy people would keep their distance. This kind of woman is like the wicked witch in a fairy tale who transforms herself into the beautiful maiden to attract potential lovestruck suitors. Shortly after you pledge your devotion to her, she exposes her inner ugliness. It’s hard for many men to let go of the initial illusion and so they continue to play right into her hands.

The Love Bomb. Cult recruiters and many emotional predators drug you with love, admiration, validation, affection, adoration, flattery, laser beam attention, responsiveness and sexual and non-sexual touching. They hang on your every word and create a sense of instant rapport, connection and intimacy. Margaret Singer (1996) describes the technique:

As soon as any interest is shown by the recruits, they may be love bombed by the recruiter or other cult members. This process of feigning friendship and interest in the recruit was . . . part of their program for luring people in. Love bombing is a coordinated effort, usually under the direction of leadership, that involves long-term members’ flooding recruits and newer members with flattery, verbal seduction, affectionate but usually nonsexual touching, and lots of attention to their every remark. Love bombing – or the offer of instant companionship – is a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives.

Many people are seduced by this kind of behavior. Everyone wants to feel special. Abusers play to your ego needs and then turn the tables on you, which is why it’s so difficult to break away once the abuse begins in earnest. You yearn for her to return to the kind, loving person she was when you first met. You believe that’s the real person and the abusive, hostile, cold, unempathic harpy is the aberration. In reality, the opposite is true.

This is how emotional predators and cults seduce you. They flatter you and make you feel special—at first. Next week, I’ll explore how they break you down and keep you down. Meanwhile, don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

Shrink4Men Counseling, Coaching and Consulting Services

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD provides confidential, fee-for-service, counseling, consultation and coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.


If you find the information I provide free of charge helpful and valuable here on Shrink4Men, please consider making a donation via PayPal to help me maintain the site.


Photo credits:

Mind control at photobucket.

Love bomb by soul food on flickr.

  1. March 16, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Hi Dr Tara:

    I have always thought that the “NBPD”, the “N” and the “BPD” have at general
    Three Step Procedure:

    Seduction: They totally Knock you Off your Feet with charm, beauty, sexuality, style
    Corruption: They Corrupt You! They strip you of your history, convictions, faith, identity, etc
    Ruin: When they have you “by the short ones”..they ruin you personally, financially, emotionally

    Whenever dealing with “The Disordered”…in the end….expect their “revenge objective” to be ruin

  2. Ron
    March 15, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    finallywokeup :I would respectfully say “it depends”. My ex-wife hated that I stood up for my principles (unlike her father, who was a doormat to her mother). She began labeling me as controlling and critical, began telling others (not me) that I was verbally abusive because I dared call her on her more egregious behavior, and when I stood up and said no to her worst legal and financial threats, she left.
    Maybe you are right with respect to many women who are just difficult personalities, but I think that the truly personality-disordered women will implode if you do this. Dr. T’s articles seem to suggest this.

    I agree with this. As pathetic as it is, there is some truth to some semi-normal, albeit developmentally arrested, women testing men to see if they will stand up for themselves.
    However, I think that with the PD woman, one simply accelerates the further destruction of the relationship by enforcing boundaries. This destruction is, actually, a very good thing, although it may not feel like it at the time, as it gets one out of the relationship much sooner.
    If I had it to do over again, from day one i would never had put up with the craziness and just continued to say no to my XNPDW. Yes, they are relentless and can wear you down. But, I really wish I had brought the demise of the relationship about earlier by refusing to go along with so many weird, absurd, paranoid, irresponsible etc behaviors. Never again.

    • TK
      March 16, 2010 at 2:45 am

      Well put, Ron. No matter the circumstance, accepting disordered behaviour from a partner only makes things worse in the long run. Refusing to accept such behaviour will always leave you either with a partner who treats you well, or on your own and free to find such a partner. If you do accept crazy behaviour from a partner, you only end up making it worse to the point where you’re trapped in a relationship with a nutter who makes your life miserable.

      • Lighthouse
        March 16, 2010 at 3:52 pm

        Well said Ron and TK.

        As someone who got the boundaries, got the divorce, got a life and is closing in on getting the respectful, productive, enduring relationship I’ve earned the painful transition is worth it.

        Even with a child, it remains the right decision because now I am in a position to bring healthy expectations and loving boundaries to our child without my ex- undermining my access or application.

        If you ‘must’ deal with disordered people then nothing substitutes for clarity of thought, clearly articulated boundaries and consistency in application. Nothing. When combined, they protect you from shouldering others’ responsibilities due to procrastination, excuses, unreasonable expectations, acting out, lies, misrepresentations, abusive language and threats.

        It has taken LOTS of practice to develop and maintain my boundaries to the point of intuitively applying them well, but the rewards have been financial (better job because I’m clearer thinking), emotional (better relationships including with myself because I’ve better boundaries), and physical (better blood pressure because I consistently keep the disordered people further away from me).

        It will be costly and chaotic divorcing a disordered person, but it is worth it if you learn the lessons from marrying them in the first place.

        For those of you who are unsure if you need a divorce ask yourself if the problems you are facing represent an enduring pattern of abuse or if you are merely experiencing a painful and protracted learning curve. The primary differentiator is your partner’s attitude towards engaging in learning opportunities such as discussion, courses or counseling – no learning, no progress.


    • Steve
      March 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm

      I agree. I should have never put up with the craziness either which would have brought about the end of the marriage much sooner which… hindsight is 20/20…. probably would have been better than the craziness that went on for years. Time will tell, I suppose. But I”ve moved beyond regret and look forward without playing the “coulda, woulda, shoulda..” game.
      Not sure how many of you are religious, but a Bible passage that has helped me is Philippians 3:13-14: “..one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
      Forgetting what is behind is forgiveness… and straining toward what is ahead is what God is calling you to. Wallow in regret and the pain goes on. Strain toward what is ahead as a forgiven person brings peace and optimism. At least it has for me. Good luck and God Bless.

      • Nick
        March 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm

        My favorite can be found in Proverbs. “Better to inhabit the corner of a fooftop than to live with a quarrelsome woman”

  3. Keiichi
    March 15, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Fear of being alone has been one of the misleading reasons why I’ve stayed in contact with a ex girlfriend for so many years. In reality I’m learning that I feel more alone when I am around her, than when I am not. Learning something like that about how you feel can do a lot to change your perspective.

    Those of my friends who are women have asked why I accept the way she treats me. They’ve also told me that I don’t deserve to be treated that way. Hearing my friends say that to me, along with what I’ve read here over the past few months helps also. Add to that how colder, and more distant she acts towards me lately. It all causes me to ask myself, why am I still talking with her? The best answer that I can think of is… if I care about my family, friends, and myself then I won’t anymore.

    • Mellaril
      March 15, 2010 at 6:03 pm

      Have you checked out “Divorce and Break-Ups: There Is No Closure with a Narcissistic or Borderline Woman” on the site? That’s one of my favorite blogs here.

      It will be 22 years since I last had any contact with my ex-gf. Until I read that blog, I carried around a sense of unfinished business.

      I have no desire to ever contact her again but after reading about NPD/BPDs here, I’m really curious as to what she’s been up to for all that time.

  4. clear blue skies
    March 14, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I have to say that reading this article was painful, but revealing. I know that it will take me a long time to move on but at least I am taking the steps. These articles are much more than informative. They are life savers which allow a certain degree of introspection as well. Thank you so much.

  5. March 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Girl who has a BF but who flirts with other men, let them come to her and later tell her friends “See, they can´t stop hitting on me, those bastards!”.

    Girl who goes to a bar and makes guys fight over her and then leaves with a third guy or no one at all.

    Girl who make you fall in love with her and then discards you (the opposite of a male player who only wants the girl for sex) because “being in love means you´re weak”.

    Girl who will lead you on so she will have her fan club to boost her self-steem.

    Girl who will use her sex appeal to attract, control you but will later blame you because the only thing you want from her is sex, and you should like her for what she is, not for her body.

    Girl who will make you jump through hoops to prove yourself to her, because she´s a princess or because she has the p8ssy.

    Girl who complains and abuses you if you´re a nice guy (too weak), but will also complain and pout if you stand up for yourself (“too strong”).

    Girl who expects you to take care of her, entertain her as if you were her father.

    Bottom LINE:

    Refusing a frame game gives us the power to control the influences in our minds and emotions. We CANNOT play a new game because of the presence of and old frame that prevents us from moving on, it sabotages us. So allow no person´s opinion, no influence to enter you mind which does not harmonize with your purpose! The question is WHAT`S YOUR PURPOSE?

    “Whoever sets the frame controls the game. Whoever changes the frame alters the game!”

    • TK
      March 15, 2010 at 6:02 am

      “Girl who complains and abuses you if you´re a nice guy (too weak), but will also complain and pout if you stand up for yourself (“too strong”).”

      Let me share something with you that’s taken me nearly 30 years to figure out: When your woman complains about you standing up for yourself, it’s just a test to see if she can bully you out of it. Contrary to the words coming out of her mouth, she actually WANTS you to stand up to her. Try doing so. Ignore her complaints, and pay attention purely to how she acts. Once she gets over her pouting session, I’m betting that not only is she happier but that she’ll start treating you with a little more respect.

      • finallywokeup
        March 15, 2010 at 11:14 am

        I would respectfully say “it depends”. My ex-wife hated that I stood up for my principles (unlike her father, who was a doormat to her mother). She began labeling me as controlling and critical, began telling others (not me) that I was verbally abusive because I dared call her on her more egregious behavior, and when I stood up and said no to her worst legal and financial threats, she left.

        Maybe you are right with respect to many women who are just difficult personalities, but I think that the truly personality-disordered women will implode if you do this. Dr. T’s articles seem to suggest this.

      • phoenix
        March 15, 2010 at 7:05 pm

        I have to strongly disagree. The “complaints” in this case is the abuse. The complaint is not like she is saying, “It’s too hot in the room.” The complaint is an accusation that something is wrong with you—an attack on your person. I’ve heard this idea of “testing” many times. It’s just a cover story for abuse. It’s a way of blaming the abused for the abuse.

      • TK
        March 16, 2010 at 2:41 am

        (All this is just my understanding, I am not a qualified psychologist – Dr. T, please correct me if I’m off base here!)

        @ finallywokeup – This is true. I only really covered the case where she’s salvageable. The other case is that she can’t handle you being a well-integrated, confident human being with strong boundaries, and she escalates her behaviour. If you let this go on, she’ll feel she’s losing control of you (and thus losing you), and she will leave you pre-emptively to protect herself from what she sees as your imminent abandonment of her.

        Cluster B personality disorders stem from a ‘core wound of abandonment’, and their disordered behaviours are just maladaptive coping mechanisms which they have evolved to avoid ever feeling abandoned. I can’t be sure, but my guess would be that if YOU had withdrawn from HER sufficiently to trigger her abandonment anxiety, then rather than leaving, she would have gone on her best behaviour.

        To get through to a cluster-B partner you have to structure your requests for change in a very specific way. “If you do this, I will abandon you. If you don’t then I will never abandon you.”

        @ phoenix – You’re right, it IS an attack on your person. It *is* abusive. I’m advocating specifically rejecting the abuse, along with the accusations, and letting her know that *neither* is acceptable. She wants to see you stand up to her, because if you’re stronger than her, then you can protect her better than she can protect herself. She feels safe with you.

        • finallywokeup
          March 16, 2010 at 10:59 am

          Thanks for the clarification, TK. I think you are pretty close to the mark.

          In my situation, I apparently did not have strong boundaries (so the marriage counselor told me) until toward the end. I had had it hammered into me for years by my ex that I was the abusive one, and that I wasn’t doing enough for the marriage. But when the marriage counselor began hinting right away that it might be the opposite (to my great surprise!) and suggested that I draw “boundaries” against my wife, she abandoned me within months.

          The strange thing to me was that my boundary-drawing was limited to granting her demands, only with clear conditions to protect myself. (Example: I agreed to what seemed like an irrational financial demand, but requested equal supervision of finances going forward – until then she had managed the finances, I just earned the money.) How would this be seen as threatening or abandoning by a Cluster B personality?

          After she left she would neither divorce me nor give me a clear indication she would ever come back to stay, so I divorced her. I suppose that her wanting to keep me on some sort of perpetual string, where I remained a supplicant working to earn her back, also fits your analysis.

          Of course, she said that her abandoning me (and our child) was for my own good, and to show me how serious she was about her needs. In her head I imagine she viewed it as drawing a legitimate boundary to protect herself. But I will never get a clear answer from her, and don’t have contact anymore.

          • finallywokeup
            March 16, 2010 at 11:05 am

            P.S. Even if you’re right about the way to get them to modify their behavior, it doesn’t seem worthwhile to work for a relationship where you have to threaten them with abandonment, for the purpose of reducing their abandonment fears, so that they will stop threatening to abandon you pre-emptively!

          • Mellaril
            March 16, 2010 at 12:27 pm

            Everything I’ve ever read on this all has the common theme that while not impossible, the likelihood someone with NPD/BPD will enter and remain in therapy long enough to get to the core of the problems is remote. You may be able to contain and mitigate them but as you point out, to what purpose?

            To quote another famous Dr. (Seuss): “This mess is so big and so deep and so tall, there’ no way to fix it. No way at all.” – “The Cat in the Hat”

  6. March 14, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    What I fiund amusing,amazing is the amount of information that Tara provides us in those articles. She goes deep, and dissects them every way possible. It never gets too tiring, although the topics “are always the same”. Later on, all her articles could be indexed in order to create a PDF, Survival PD book. I think a partnership could be formed with a website called ASKMEN.com. Like this website, it´s targeted to men, it´s amazing.

    *It´s astounding how men are always the perpretators of abuse and women always the blameless victims. How many men were literally INDULCED to kill,abuse their women because these very women were provoking their men??

  7. Gooberzzz
    March 14, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    The most dangerous thing about these types of women is that you start believing their negative assumptions and projections they put upon you, and you start acting it out. It’s a game of sabotage with them. A constant effort to play the “gotcha game” with you. It’s maddening.

    I’m 6-months out from no-contact with both my sister and mother, both I believe have undiagnosed BPD. It’s been difficult, because I don’t have my father in my life either, or other family. They both know this and use it to rub my face in. I can only imagine the hurtful slander that goes on as they spew garbage to others about me.

    My sister was the biggest disappointment. She used to make everyone think that her husband was such a jerk too. Once I got to know him better, I found out the contrary, and that I have a lot of sympathy for him. He has so much to offer, but after a 20-year marriage with another BPD woman, he thinks that all women are like this and he just puts up with it.

    She uses his children from a previous marriage as pawns. She gets his daughters involved in private “girl talk” conversations, which just turns into her bashing their father and digging up dirt. She then uses information she gets from them to manipulate him.

    He has given her a nice 5-bedroom home to share, and talks about getting a bigger one, gives her nice cars to drive, takes her on nice trips, pays for her upkeep when she’s not working and has let her into his family. What does she do? Bithches about it ALL, and then sleeps with a truck driver when he travels through town.


    And I wonder why I’m gay.

    Great article Dr. T. If you ever get around to it, I would like to see more about workplace behaviors of these types of women. The reason I ask, is because after growing up with the women I did, I tend to attract these same types of personalities in the workplace. I am working for one right now…and guess what…I let my people pleaser ways do a bunch of work for free, thinking that this was a well meaning person who would deliver on their promises and guess who’s standing in line at the food bank?

  8. shattapaul
    March 14, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Good God in Heavens, Dr. T and people like JP and Melove just illuminate the dark recesses of psychology which so many of us are trapped in.

    Brilliant work.

    I can see through this mirror of truth how I was in “love” with an illusion. I was sorely duped and clinging to the false self for reciprocation of love.

    Dr. T, I know you will be upset with me still posting here, but let me say that thanks to articles like these, I can grope my way out of the toxic sludge.

    Guys, we ought to thank this woman over and over and over again.

  9. March 13, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Feminism = BPDs
    Chauvinism = NPD

    No wonder they are attracted to each other. A match made in hell!!

    • Bert
      March 14, 2010 at 5:40 pm

      Right on Mike! Now add these too most lovely and adoring disguised qualities into a single person….key here, IN disguise of course. So, as you’ve indicated ‘hell’. Think we could all make the debate regardless of our religious beliefs ,convictions and or lack thereof as applies …. ‘hell’ does exist and doesn’t have to be in the form of literal ‘fire and brimstone’! BP/NP metaphorically speaking one could debate this IS tantamount if not actual fire and brimstone. Has the same effect either way!! We finally get to see the real underbelly of these loving NP/BP types. As Dr. T has stated, real ‘gems’ they are!

  10. AfOR
    March 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Do you know what I notice about this site?

    By and large, all the people posting comments are clearly intelligent, have good grammar, good spelling, a good lexicon, are able to express complex emotions clearly, and so on and so forth.

    Not what you might intuitively expect from self selected targets of abusive women.

    I also note that those who are clearly less educated tend to gravitate towards the men’s rights / game websites and blogs, and start blaming their problems on feminism and profess the beliefs that if they themselves were more “alpha” they would be better off, which is the definition of having drunk the kool aid and become indoctrinated into the cult belief.


    • Mellaril
      March 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm

      Goes to show that you can’t equate intelligence and education with “smarts.” Look at all the people Bernie Madoff conned. Fraud is fraud be it economical or emotional.

      Like the song says: “Everybody plays the fool, sometime.”

      • Mellaril
        March 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm

        “Economical?!” I meant to say

    • jp
      March 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm

      I don’t know what ‘men’s rights’ web sites you’re talking about. Fathers & Families is the leading family law reform organization in the country and has legislation pending in several states and it’s board members and founders are regularly invited to submit amicus briefs in major cases and to appear on television & radio programs across the country to discuss complex and precedent-setting custody cases. They’re regularly quoted in articles in the NY Times, the Boston Globe, etc. And on and on.

      The membership of that organization and many others like it are made up of grown-up men and women appalled at the anti-male bias of family law courts that, by default, award to the mother full physical custody and up to 40% of the father’s after tax income, depriving the father of equal access to his own children and impoverishing him in one swift blow. The situation is a national civil rights disgrace, in desparate need of reform. I’d also add that the suicude rate of divorced fathers deprived of their most basic rights is shockingly high.

      If you’re equating them with game/seduction sites you’re way, way off-base.

      • AfOR
        March 14, 2010 at 5:12 pm

        OK, let’s take this apart, piece by piece…

        I don’t know what ‘men’s rights’ web sites you’re talking about.

        Correct, you don’t.

        Fathers & Families is the leading family law reform organization in the country

        What country would that be then? Andorra? Angola? Austria?

        I am always suspicious of anything that claims to be the leading anything, if it was the leader, why do they need to claim it, surely it is self evident?

        “Hoover the carpet” is an example of a leading brand.

        They’re regularly quoted in articles in the NY Times, the Boston Globe, etc. And on and on.

        So was Nifong.

        The membership of that organization and many others like it are made up of grown-up men and women

        “grown-up” men and women, as opposed to what? Precisely? Childish men and women?

        If you’re equating them with game/seduction sites you’re way, way off-base.

        Trouble is, the sites I’m thinking of also describe themselves as “men’s rights” and “leading” and all that jazz, and end up discussing game and alpha/beta/omega.

        Here on the internet, there is no way to tell a one man site from a corporate site, it’s a great leveller, so you look for a site with a lot of useful factual links, e.g. to Case Law, or you look for a site with a lot of useful user contributions (like this place) etc.

        I took a look at “Fathers & Families”, “the leading family law reform organization”, which I haven’t heard about or visited before, so I looked under “accomplishments” To be sure, I have heard of Glenn Sacks before.

        I don’t see any.

        I do not see one single like to Case Law that was reformed.

        I saw loads of “helped” “worked” “instrumental” and the I stopped reading.

        What I do see, in the most important part of every web page, right at the top, is a 1, 2, 3 step, 1 is outrage, 2 is give money, 3 is give money.

        So this is different from a woman’s rape refuge charity how? exactly?

        Here in THIS country, I can give you links to Case Law, and to the best of my knowledge every single one of them has come about because of one single case / individual standing his ground.

        • jp
          March 14, 2010 at 10:35 pm

          You’re missing my point, which is that your lumping together of mens’ rights sites and game sites is absurd, not to mention in poor taste, IF by mens’ rights sights you mean organizations like the one I mentioned.

          Desperate fathers fighting for access to their children or trying to stay out of jail because they’ve lost their jobs and can’t pay their child support–and reforming the laws and courtroom practices that put them in that position–is a universe removed from guys on game sites sharing techniques on how to get the close on a hot girl in a nightclub.

          I don’t know if you intended to draw an equivalence between the two groups, or you were just being imprecise.

          • mj
            March 15, 2010 at 12:34 am

            Sorry to barge in…In the UK….if i was to fight for access and or custody of my daughter, the courts…if they eventually granted me access..would NOT penalise my ex if she breached the conditions of the order set in place. Because all she would have to do is spin some bullshit about a “doctors appointment” or “family event” and the order would be straight out the window.
            If i wanted custody on a perment basis, i would have to prove beyond measurable doubt that she is an unfit mother. She does all the right things, feeds clothes bathes etc…what wont be taken into account is the use of my daughter to exact her revenge on me ( for leaving her due to emotional abuse issues)…its obstruction, plane and simple. My daughter wont grow up with the balance and contrast of two mature adult people…I was too late in waking up i think!

  11. Marie
    March 13, 2010 at 4:12 am

    They absolutely play mind games with their children which is BEYOND evil. As adults we can choose to escape the abuse but the children really have no choice. Staying for the children is an excuse to stay – it does not benefit a child to be raised in an environment where abuse is normal.
    Dr. T, I would really like you to address the issue of Parental Alienation. These women cannot get divorced without using the children as weapons. Men who decide to divorce these women and have children with them need to know that this is almost ALWAYS A CONSEQUENCE OF LEAVING. They need to be educated and prepared for the worst – having their children turned against them. These women are unable to grasp the concept that children have the RIGHT to love BOTH parents without influence from either parent. They put their children in impossible positions – your either with me or your against me – even when it comes to your FATHER. If I hate the SOB, then you must do the same. The child is made to choose between Mommy and Daddy. This is child abuse and evil to the core. Dr. T these children are INNOCENT – what actions can we take to protect these children? The courts don’t seem to understand that murdering a child’s soul is just as abusive as a physical beating.

    • infojunkie
      March 14, 2010 at 7:30 pm

      Yes please…. I am interested in information about co-parenting with a BPD/NPD mother. The constant games and manipulations are exhausting.

      • mj
        March 15, 2010 at 12:22 am

        I totally understand….ive ceased contact with my ex and my daughter due to her constant obstructions and games…turning it round on me!

  12. Miguel
    March 12, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    What she did to me was something best described as instant ultimate intimacy. I felt I had found the perfect match. It turned out nothing could be further from the truth. It was just a chameleon tactic. The fist abuses were just around the corner. She made me believe I could get through her sexual mental blocks. I soon found out it was impossible. Thank God she was boring in bed, otherwise I might have taken much more crap.

  13. Marvin
    March 12, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    This article rings so true. Any man in the dating world should memorize it. I consider myself to be a pretty smart and cautious guy when it comes to matters of the heart but I fell victim to what this article describes.

    A while back I met this girl and within a very short time (less than a month) she wanted me to move in with her. I was amazed at how flattering she was of my abilities. At the beginning, her words about my looks, morality, drive….almost everything were so flattering that it was hard to resist. The sex was amazing. I let her in very quickly (a few weeks) which for me is outside my character because again, I am so cautious. I do remember thinking that it was all too soon but like this article article says, you want to believe….

    Either way, after about six weeks, cracks started to show in her facade. She began making comments about people who were close to me (they had issues, or she questioned why I was friends with them). They were not direct but rather asides. I dismissed it until I noticed a pattern. Hindsight usually is 20/20 and so it was not until I realized that she was badmouthing EVERYONE I knew that I saw the pervasive pattern of insidious behaviour starting to unfold.

    As time passed, her behaviour became more blatant, she started yelling at me for dumb things and would lose her temper and go into a rage over things that I would completely overlook. I told her I felt like I was walking on eggshells. She told me that others had said the same thing about her. Either way, I dismissed her behaviour and chalked it up to her having a bad day.

    As time passed, and by time I mean three weeks, her outbursts, criticisms of my family and friends, as well as me, became more frequent. After about two and a half months of dating her, I put my foot down and confronted her.

    Of course this almost started a war but I just stood up to her, held my ground and stood on what I believed. She started in on me about my character flaws and I fought back with logic and at times laughed in her face because her arguments made NO SENSE. The very last day we spoke, I packed up what items I had at her place, initiated the no contact rule and despite her shrouded efforts to reach out to me a few times, I never responded.

    This was my experience over only a three month time period. It was about all I could take with one of these demons. I feel for each and every person who has children with them or has had to endure them for less time than me or any amount longer.

    Dr T., your website is a harbinger and I hope that every person who reads it, follows the advice. I was lucky to get in and out but I did experience pain when it ended. Your site helped me understand the whirlwind I experienced. I hope it helps others the same.

    • Aapeli
      September 14, 2010 at 12:51 am

      Well, you got through it quickly!

      I’ve been with such a woman since ’97. Problems appeared in ’01 right away when we started to live together – she changed “overnight”. Or didn’t change, but she showed me her true personality.

      Now I am seriously considering getting out. I’ve spent years in depression which was no doubt caused by the bad relationship to her. So I didn’t have strength to get out. Now I am getting some strength back so breaking up becomes possible. You were good that you didn’t fall into depression but got out quickly. But then again you two started to live together quickly, too. Maybe I will have the next girlfriend live with me quickly…

    • jake
      January 6, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      my god….that is exactly what happened to me. Except mine did so on the first date! MOVED IN…. I said let yourself out in the morning and my buddy upstairs said for a month and a half that she never left. she kept moving stuff in. Little did she know…hes a cop. and my best friend. i said oh no man your kidding. She immediatly went into wear a bikini mode and distract me. And became housegirl of the year cleaning and cooking. this whole article was like reading my last 5 months. the last month of 5 was terrible. every week”i’m leaving if you do this or that” she’d leave and come back in a day on the condition i never do it again. I mean crazy. i can’t even say enough of dr. Ts website its so helpfull

  14. Ron
    March 12, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Yes, very good article.
    I wanted to add that, in addition to thinking the abusive behavior is an aberation, my XNPDW was very convincing in making me believe that these abberations were all my doing. So, one is constantly trying to fiigure out where one went wrong.
    It was so terribly confusing. I got along with most everyone else. I was well liked and respected. I could not understand whi it was that only she felt that I was such a terrible person, such a bad husband, insensitive, a poor parent. My kids loved me. I was a good provider. I shouldered way more than my share of the childcare, and I worked several part time jobs in addition to my full time one, in an effort to keep up with her spending.
    One thing she was quite adept at was realizing that she had to undermine my knowledge that most folks liked and respected me. So, she would constantly tell me that she “knew the real me” and that my presentation to the outside world was a facade.
    I now realize that this was proojection and that it was true of her, rather than me. I noticed that folks , initially, took to her. But, once they started to get to know her, their impressions changed.
    Her parents told me that she has a long list of enemies that she left in her wake. If someone offended her, inadvertently, he or she was , immediately excised form our lives.
    I also noticed the isolation. When I , finally sought help, through therapy, she ridiculed me and admonished me “don’t you dare talk about me.”
    When I revealed, once, that I had run a situation that was causing her to go ballistic by a friend, for advice, I was told “you are just like a woman. Always talking to people.”(emasculating remarks were her forte).
    I once asked her dad for advice, as I was totally coonfounded by the repeat silent treatments. He said “welcome to my world, Ron.”
    She was incensed that I had gone to her dad.

    • Bert
      March 14, 2010 at 5:23 pm

      Wow- this damaged stuff and all these relationships. Same stories, same details, same behaviors, and same responses…. just shifted around. All in the end lead to SAME result and our path. This stuff is like a template once we know. How could we have really? Unless you’ve been there TOO.

      Ron, we must’ve shared the same woman. Your reply here, I too could’ve written….almost verbatum even. In fact, so many of the various tragedies in everyone’s writings on this site resonate waaay too deeply…..and unfortunately entirely TOO close to home. Yes, ‘confusion’ seems to be an extraordinary commonality we all share. It’s rearranges our DNA and molecular structure somehow. This stuff is beyond twisted.

      Loss IS loss and acceptance process very different and multifaceted with a BP/NP. End the end, the GIFT is ourselves, our good, our own betterment,developing of our character and understanding, become authentic people to ourselves and to others. Somehow of most importance…..accepting and facing realities……also having to let go of those we too considered our ‘friends’ and loved ones. The costs can be and often are very high. Never again. Best to you Ron in your own journey.

    • B.E.C.
      March 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm

      Yep, my EX-NDP would give me the, “your like a girl”, remark when I’d talk to my fiends about what was going between me and her. In her stated opinion, we should have been able work things out between us; which meant I should take her opinions as fact and feed her a line of crap to make her feel like she was great in spite of the negative things that she would do.

      She couldn’t stand to think that I’d be telling anyone anything that might conflict with her carefully controlled public image.

      • Geronimo
        March 18, 2010 at 2:33 am

        Man, some of these comments make me think I am losing my mind. I read things like the above and think I typed it myself under some alias I totally forgot about.

    • Alnico
      March 18, 2010 at 1:54 pm

      One day my ex’s dad saw the way she treated me, as she went on her laundry list of things that I needed to do her way, before heading out the door. I was shocked at his response – that “You need to handle her like I do her mother.” Of course, I said, “How’s that?” and he replied, “Just say: Yes, yes. ok Honey, I will… and then do what the hell you want when she is gone.” While I did not take his advise, I am thankful that my ex’s father told me clearly what I was going to have to do if I wanted to stay in a relationship with my ex. What he did not know, was that I was already in counseling and and had already decided I did not want to be in such a relatioinship any more.

      I let my abuser isolate me from both family and friends. She made my life miserable if I wanted to spend time with any guy friends that were not of her choosing, or if I wanted to go visit my family, etc.

      I was told I was not a real man, she still tells me that BS now that we are divorced. It’s been two months short of 3 years and not only does she still make such accusations against me, she tells my son I am not a real man either. She actually told me in counseling one time that she walked on me all the time because I let her do it, because it was easy, because I was not a strong enough man to stop her.

      Now, 3 years later, I have to deal with her because I have significant custody of my kids (38% fisical / 50% legal) – I maried again and, even though she is married again too, I am still her favorite pet control project — she just has limited reach – trying it throught he children whenever she can.

      I would love to see more articles to help me deal with her now that she is out of my life, but still part of my kids lives.

  15. Mr. E
    March 12, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    “They flatter you and make you feel special—at first.”

    Yep. Looking back at the start of our relationship, wow, I could do no wrong! I was funny, well-dressed, extremely talented, incredible in bed, all my ideas were genius, I was a great cook, and so on.

    Now? Not so much except when she’s trying to get something.

    Great post, I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

  16. dutch
    March 12, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    A great post, Dr. Tara. I can’t wait for the second part. Your efforts and articles are most appreciated.
    The comment “most abusers aren’t abusive all the time. If they were nasty the majority of the time, psychologically healthy people would keep their distance” is so very true. That’s why we can be involved with someone like this for many many years, without running away screaming.

  17. Bulldogo
    March 12, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Dr Tara, I can’t believe the amount of concise, extemely helpful and bravely politically incorrect – but true – information that you continue to provide on your FREE website. The amount of time you must spend thinking, researching and writing material for those that need it without expecting anything in return must be immense. Your are an angel sent from heaven.
    Another great post by Dr T. The way that I was sucked in by my ex’s bullshit is beyond belief, but I had just broken up and was feeling low and lonely. I had low self esteem and didn’t know where I was going in life. I take most people on face value and usually don’t read into things too much, especially with women. I think that most people are good deep down, ever the optimist, especially with women. I think, in the emd, I was sucked in by a culture that has exalted the female and denigrated the male for the last 40 years and a woman that instinctively knows how to manipulate that culture to her total benefit.

  18. March 12, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Another great column, Dr. T. To anyone caught up in one of these, it’s never too late to leave. I’m so glad I did.

    • shrink4men
      March 12, 2010 at 4:51 am

      Thanks, bunker dweller. I agree. It’s never too late to leave and have a real shot at a peaceful, contented life.

  19. jp
    March 12, 2010 at 4:26 am

    “Most abusive women are mental and verbal contortionists/escape artists. They can twist the most obvious set of facts into a Gordian knot …”

    The good news is what happened to the Gordian knot: While all the gurus and shamans and wise men sat around trying to figure out how to untie it, Alexander the Great cleaved it in two with his sword.

    Dr. T, great piece!


    • shrink4men
      March 12, 2010 at 4:50 am

      Fetch me my sword! And a frosty cold pint of beer.

      Thanks, JP. I was writing this and part II for the better part of the day. I’m spent.

    • jake
      January 6, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      i ended up having to use the sword on the knot and throw her out. My 5 months of hell was so similar to your story that i’ve been in shock. I have a high stress busy job. Firefighter. so i was already at a disadvantage sleep wise. I work in a crazy busy city. Now i’m free a month now and still get emails from her saying I’m fat. with Dr. Oz fat loss diet links. ridiculous…funny thing is …I’m in awesome shape for my job. She took a joke at work and turned it into an abusive over and over thing.. I’d call her on her bullshit and she’d twist it around. Dr. T..Good piece.

  20. Lauren
    March 12, 2010 at 4:01 am

    These women do the same mind games to their children.

    • shrink4men
      March 12, 2010 at 4:52 am

      You’re absolutely right, Lauren, which is why “staying in the relationship to protect the children” is rarely successful. They still ingest the toxicity.

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