Today’s post is highlighting an analogy from our Allegories, Analogies, and Fairy Tales page.
Defending or Stalking
In his book In Sheep’s Clothing [Affiliate link] George Simon has a wonderful analogy — the difference between a cat that is stalking a mouse (the intentional aggressor) and the cat who is defending itself from a dog attacking it. The defending cat raises it’s hackles and looks “abusive” but it is not trying to hurt the dog. It is all about intention — and the abuser’s intention is power and control, a wife defending herself is not trying to get power and control over her husband, just trying to save herself from his abuse. (by Dr. George Simon)
Here is the link to the original comment where this analogy was given.
18 thoughts on “Thursday Thought — Defending or Stalking”
Excellent analogy which I need to remember, thank you.. Lundy Bancroft also gives a full explanation of the same on his blog explaining how abusers accuse / convince the target that she is actually ‘controlling’. Lundy shows two lists of behaviours where it is obvious who is really controlling. My abuser actually convinced me over time that I might be controlling, since I’m ‘nagging’ him (to do the right thing and stop harming us). All the while he controlled my personal freedom, peace, access to health care, money, soul and the whole ‘relationship’. The article really cleared the fog for me once and for all. Friends, I just completed the mandatory one year of separation and filed for divorce on Saturday, woohooo!!!! 🙂
Sasanka, I am delighted for you with the mandatory one year of separation and filing for divorce. Congratulations! Isn’t it amazing? The freedom and relief that comes with those words and milestones. Praise God!
I find it somewhat amusing at the same time, because today I was thinking that I’d best not tell relatives at Thanksgiving that I celebrate a date in October every year with something special that I do for myself to remember the day my abuser abandoned our child and me; I celebrate that, but I don’t think the relatives would understand. 🙂
Thank you, Still Reforming, 🙂 It is an amazing feeling. And I totally understand your new special Holiday!!!! lol. I will make it a special anniversary too. I have to think of a cool tradition to do for myself. And heartfelt congratulations on your abuser getting lost from your life, I know at the time it probably didn’t seem like a good thing, but God is so good to us as always!!! I found part of my healing is that I don’t attach my happiness to what other loved ones think so much any more. I realized that loving someone does not include giving them power over me. Love does involve vulnerability but not in the same way. We do get to keep our soul 🙂 My problem was I usually and unknowingly equated love with neediness for approval and would do almost anything to get it. I wasted so much life energy, especially on abusers who saw me as an easy mark. I love to be on this journey with all of you guys and discover and share the Lord’s wisdom as He is providing it to us. Thank you so much everyone, especially Barbara and Pastor Jeff…God bless you all!
I totally agree. I feel so blessed of the Lord to have met those in this community who bond by our sharing the common ground of abuse. We can comfort one another and also rejoice in these milestones that we share. It may amuse you to learn how I ‘celebrated’ the anniversary of my now ex-husband’s desertion last year was to simply mow the lawn. But it’s MY lawn now (and a big one, as I purchased his share of our farm, with many acres to mow). So I plugged in earphones to an mp3 player and listened to Christian teaching while I mowed and mowed for hours, celebrating my freedom in my heart. I thought I’d do that every year. It’s the last mow of the season – in October – as winter sets upon us, so it’s the last of the mowing for the year and it’s significant to me to do it for myself. And the celebration costs me nothing, except for the gas to mow.
I like what you wrote about loving but not granting the vulnerability to allow others the authority of approval over our lives. I talk with my child about this all the time – about how so many people we seem to meet or know want control in one way or another. Judging or sizing us up without ever asking our thoughts or views or preferences. Yet in my heart, I struggle sometimes with caring about how those in my immediate family think about my life, and at the same time, intellectually I know I don’t really mind what they think or don’t. As I get older, I grow increasingly comfortable with who I am in the Lord and not who others might want me to be. ‘Tis ultimately He alone who protects and provides and no one else. I’m grateful for His teaching us this individually and collectively here at this site.
Again, I’m so happy for you. I celebrate and do the happy dance with you in my heart.
Nagging. Seldom if ever do we hear that word applied to a man: “a nagging husband”. It is a word that by default is used for adult women. That is an indicator of the gender-biased societies we all live in.
Here’s an idea: Try using the word ‘nagging’ to describe a man, and see the strange looks and raised eyebrows you get! Then, if you think it’s worth it, try steering the conversation into a discussion of gender bias in society.
Whenever we would attend some marriage thing, the stereotypes were brought out. They would say something like, the man “has a hard time showing his feelings and needs alone time” and you need to “stop nagging the moment he walks in the door.” It was infuriating because it was HE who was the nag! So, he “had a hard time showing his feelings (as in GOOD ones, had NO trouble showing the negative ones) AND he nagged at me constantly. I do get that there are differences in how each gender operates but if respect was presented as an equal need on both sides, it would be a lot closer to what “makes a good marriage.”
Yes, excellent. This was ALWAYS used against me. My abuser would never look at what he was doing no matter HOW I tried to get him to see but the moment I “couldnt take it any more” and was ready to defend myself, then I was “the bad guy” “the un Christlike one” “the “crazy female” “the abusive one” “the non-submissive one” yadayadayada…Lundy Bandroft’s article about who is abusing whom made it clear to me.
I did not see it at the time it was happening because to this very day it’s still hard for me to believe the plotting and planning and cruel attacks which are that of an abuser. Now in hindsight it’s so crystal clear to me. While my covert Narcissist sociopath always abused me behind closed doors he enjoyed an audience to make me look like the aggressor. In front of his grown children he would tell horrible lies about me with me sitting right there. I would be horrified and at times speechless but then when I did catch my breath, would seek to defend myself against his outrageous and cruel lies. I recall one time his son looked at me and said, “So you’re calling my dad a liar”. I would say, “What he is telling you is not truthful”. He would invite people to our home and do the same thing. I began to realize he was working overtime to take the spotlight off himself and because people already knew this marriage was in trouble so I was a scapegoat. My abuser worked very, very hard to keep me on the defensive. How I wish I would’ve known then what I know now. It was all a game to him – all his cruel schemes. I was working hard trying to make a marriage work well he all the time was playing me for a fool. This is sport to him; it’s his “golf game”. How wicked and evil is such a person. And the incidents I just described, were the good days.
And the ‘Fathers Rights Groups’ which are either dominated or infiltrated by abusive men whose partners have had to fight in the family court for custody (the right to protect their kids from the abusive man) are the equivalent of businessmen and professional men meeting on the golf course to plot and plan unethical deals. How many secret deals have been made between powerful men on golf courses? My guess: lots and lots.
this will be so helpful for me to remember–
that whenever I sought to defend myself I was accused of being a bully or abusive
when all I was doing was defending myself because I couldn’t take it any more
Now I don’t bother to defend myself as often; happens occasionally but most times I just say nothing and walk away
Now that I realize it’s just a game to him to treat me that way it doesn’t really matter what he thinks about me or claims to think about me why try to change what he says.
This is helpful for my mental health but his allies won’t buy it…
His allies don’t need to “buy it.” They are NOT being abused; You ARE! Take care of your mental, emotional and physical well-being. They love creating drama then sitting back to watch the show. Really, that’s exactly what they do. Dietrich Bonhoffer said, “Not to speak, is to speak”. My silence this past year, my refusal to defend his outrageous cruel lies and to remain No Contact is now deafening to his allies. Some of them, not all, are starting to scratch their heads as my abuser continues tearing me down. Remember, if they succeed at making us look like the horrible evil wickedness they practice, the Spotlight stays OFF them. How pathetic, every day the only thing that keeps them to the task is the task itself. They MUST work hard to tear us down, they simply cannot look at their own evil.
I can really relate, when things started to get really bad, i actually thought I was the controlling one. It seemed that I was the one always upset or the one making the most noise. We would go around in circles over another discovered lie or something of the like for so long and then I’d blow up. Then he’d say things in a really smooth voice, like “come now, can’t WE be civil,” or “now, now we don’t want to fight.” It wasn’t until I found the information by Geoge Simon Jr. and Lundy Bancroft things started to fall into place and I could start seeing what he was doing.
And it wasn’t always being backed into the corner, sometimes he’d push me there. I’ve started to learn the he does “set-ups,” He would lie about something, and then make sure I’d somehow find out just so I’d confront him.
The thing is, even with him out of the house, it seems that I can still get caught in these circles with him. He’ll say a simple sentence that sounds harmless, but it’s not so harmless. It takes me a few days to back track the conversation to get to the statement that triggered my reaction, then once that one doesn’t have an effect on me anymore … he seems to have another one ready. It’s like a horrible train wreck, I know I shouldn’t sift through the debris but I don’t even realize I’ve already been doing it until I’ve cut my foot on a piece of metal.
Surviving freedom, I never thought of it as a train wreck and afterwards sifting through the metal, but you nailed it; that’s exactly what it’s like. I will admit it’s hard to walk away from the wreck and all the debris because we so desperately want answers, but as I heal and move forward I have learned and come to realize putting my energy into exposing evil, helping others and truly being a survivor is much healthier than continuing to cut myself on the piled up metal from the train wreck. God bless you!
I’ve found that even though I grow tired of cutting my foot on the metal, occasionally I have tried over and over again, but always to the same result – so I’ve learned (I hope) that ‘no contact’ advised by ACFJ is a wise and healthy practice. In my experience, every time I try to do that foolish dance around any given issue with my now ex-anti-husband, it’s like assuming reason into a fool. It’s just not there, no matter how much I wish it were so.
It’s a lot like a quote I’ve heard attributed to Mark Twain, I think: “Worry is like a rocking chair. It goes back and forth, but never gets you anywhere.” The same could easily be said about reasoning with an abuser. Perhaps one could say that “Reasoning with an abuser is like a merry-go-round. It goes around and around, but never gets you anywhere in the end.”
I do know that the no contact and moving forward in more productive ways is a far healthier way to go. I find that if I can even go a week without getting caught up in his games, I have much more peace and focus on myself. Right now, we are at minimal contact, really no way at this point to go completely no contact. Even trying to stay minimal, I’ll even pre-plan a straightforward conversation, decide exactly what to say to keep it short and to the point, and it seems I get caught up right in it. It’s getting a little better each time, usually it’s gone on far too long before my mind suddenly clues in and goes “hey, enough … I’ve got to get out of this…”
When no contact is not possible minimal contact, also called “low contact,” is a good next step. It sounds like you are making progress in learning how to respond to your abuser. You will get better at it with time. You may find this post helpful.
A Review of “BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People” by Bill Eddy
I’ve done that too – not necessarily pre-planning the conversation, but I have had to – at times – come up with something that I know I can live with in advance. For example, once I wanted my (then) husband to watch our child so I could go to a gynecological exam. Our child was too young, I felt, to have her in with me during the exam, so I asked him. He hemmed and hawed and said he wasn’t sure he could get off work. I replied that if it were for a doctor’s appointment for himself, he surely could get off work. He agreed, but then said he’d let me know later. (That’s an old ploy of his – putting me off until the last possible minute.) Because I didn’t want to leave myself hanging and hoping “Will he – won’t he – will he – won’t he?” etc, I had resolved that if I had to take her myself, so be it. I would do so and accept it and it would all be fine. So I told him, “No. I need to know now if I can count on you or not to watch her. If you don’t know, then I’ll just plan on taking her.” And you know what he replied? He said, “That’s not fair! Maybe I WANT to watch her.” Without getting upset, I just calmly said, “That’s okay. If you can’t be sure, then I’ll just plan on taking her.” He was stumped and finally said he’d watch her so I could go to my appointment.
Later I told our pastor about that exchange, informing our pastor that that’s the kind of thing I had to do to get a definite answer – play this little game or resolve a solution in my mind in advance that I know I can live with just to get a commitment one way or another. And my pastor said, “Well, that’s good! You know how to work with him.” No acknowledgement from the pastor that it’s childish to have to live that way or try to come up with a way or method to negotiate with a fool. Such lack of wisdom from my (then) pastor as well. Hmph.
“Reason with an abuser”. It is NOT possible. And if we try to do the impossible, life will slowly but most assuredly be drained out of us. We will be like a piece of fruit rotting on the vine, then falling to its demise mentally emotionally spiritually and physically. That is not living; that is existence in a torture chamber.