Thursday, December 17, 2009

How do I know if I am in an abusive relationship?

Red flags to look out for
There are many different kinds of abuse, some subtle and some not so subtle. It's the not so subtle kinds of abusenullnullnull that we are most familiar with and more easily able to identify. We have seen the movies, where Jennifer Lopez gets beaten black and blue in 'Enough' and heard people verbally abusing others around us. The signs of that kind of abuse is so obvious, we can't miss it, and we feel sorry for those people who have to put up with it. However, it's the subtle kinds of abuse that is far more damaging. Many of us face it every day - by our children, partners, bosses, people at work, and we don't even realise it is happening to us until it is too late and our self-esteem has taken a large knock.

Remember, nothing but nothing excuses selfish, disrespectful behaviour towards another human being. To show disrespect for another is to show disrespect for one's self.

So, what exactly is abuse and how do we know we are being abused?
It doesn't matter whether you are being physically, emotionally or verbally abused, the bottom line is that abuse is always about control. It is about one partner using strategies and techniques to control the other. It is about your partner's behaviours changing your personality, and you losing your self-esteem and your feeling of self-worth. It is about someone using your fears to manipulate you to do what they want and be what they want. They make you afraid to be yourself, afraid to control yourself, so therefore you will be available to be controlled by them.

Some red flags to look out for.
If you are faced with any of these red flags, you could be in an abusive relationship of some kind. I am not going to list the obvious signs of abuse as we're all familiar with those already.
1.Your partner controls your time by making you wait - it could be waiting for them to do something after they've watched just one more TV programme or played just one more game, or even by not giving you a direct answer to your question and replying with a “We'll have to wait and see” or “We'll talk about it later”, and later never comes. If the person who has to wait complains, they are criticised for not having enough patience, or of trying to start a fight. Either way, they are being manipulated. This type of control is two-fold: Their time is controlled and then they are blamed for it!
2.Your partner controls your time by timing you whenever you go out somewhere without them. If you take longer than they mentally calculated you'd take, they lay a guilt trip on you to make you feel bad.
3.Your partner withholds information from you, and you either have to beg for it, or are forced to try and act on your own. This means that you'll either take longer or will have a greater chance of failure. This form of control makes the abuser feel superior as they know more than you do.
4.Your partner withholds needed money, and you are forced to beg, plead or do without. The situation is then turned around that it was your 'trying to be a martyr' or your begging which forced them to withhold the money.
5.Your partner controls all the finances, gives you an allowance that isn't enough and deprives you of necessities, while they buy whatever they want and spend money like there's no tomorrow. They don't ask your permission before they buy something, but because they control your finances, you have to ask their permission if you want to buy something.
6.Your partner controls your emotions by using body language and gestures. These can be - sulking, giving you the silent treatment, turning their back on you and walking away while you're still talking to them, stomping out of the room and hitting or kicking something as they leave, rolling their eyes in disgust while you are talking or doing something, sighing deeply, refusing to look you in the eye, making a big show of crossing their arms with a bored look on their faces, withholding affection or sex, ignoring you in company and talking animatedly to others.
7.Your partner controls you by defining your reality. They discount your experiences and replace it with their truth and reality which is actually a lie. For example, “That's not what happened,” “That's not what I said,” “That's not what you saw or felt,” or the best one of all “I know you better than you know yourself!”
8.Your partner controls you by making you responsible for their behaviour, and in doing this avoids all accountability. It will be your fault because you didn't remind them, or set a good example, or stop them soon enough when you saw they were doing the wrong thing. You might ask your partner for their input, they reply, “Whatever,” and then when you go ahead and do it, it's all your fault if it doesn't work.
9.Your partner controls you by putting you down all the time, in public and in private. They play down your successes and talents, belittle you and then praise you for trivial things you do, thus saying that you are best suited for doing trivial things. They might make offensive jokes about you in public, mimic you, laugh or smirk at you, patronise you, insult you or make rude sounds while you talk.
10.Your partner controls you by talking about you in company in front of you as if you weren't there. They can bring up private moments that you might not want to be general knowledge, and turn it around so that you come out as the fool and they come out as the hero. This way they can make you the brunt of jokes and a laughing stock among your friends.
A healthy relationship is a partnership and consists of giving and taking. Each partner knows that sacrifices and concessions they make will eventually be returned. They are also able to accept themselves for who they are with all warts and imperfections, and also to accept their partner for who they are and with all their blemishes and imperfections.

Unfortunately, an abusive relationship is one-sided. The abusive partner can't give and take, and takes any criticism personally as a personal assault on their character. The abusive partner needs to win in order to feel in control. That's all that makes them feel okay and there is intense pressure for them to hold onto control and thereby preserve that 'winning feeling'. It is unacceptable and never crosses their minds to be wrong, give in, or place another's needs above their own.

The terrible reality, is that you can't change an abusive partner. I once thought, if I loved my ex-husband enough I could change him, but I was wrong. You can't change another person, unless you use abusive tactics. Change has to come from within.

Excerpt from my book on how to break the pattern of abusive relationships in your life, Fear, Phobias and Frozen Feet.

Friday, December 11, 2009

How to say NO to sex

Okay, this is a bit of a tongue in cheek post! Hey, we don't always have to be serious, do we?
Saying no when you are already in an intimate relationship
There's something about sex that makes it a very sensitive issue. Let's face it, for some reason or other, there are times, very occasional, when we are not in the mood for some death defying act of intimacy. It doesn't matter how handsome or beautiful our partner, or how turned on they might be - there are just those moments when we do not feel the same way. Albeit from a long hard day at work, or because we have other things on our mind, the fact remains, sometimes we are just not up for it. How to say no at those times is actually more difficult than it seems, because sex is just so personal and people tend to take rejection so personally. I can remember once, when my husband was very keen and saying no was probably not an option at that time, I started to sing "Not in the mood, da da da dada, not in the mood, da da da dada!" Luckily, he saw the funny side and started to laugh, his pointed keeness disappeared, and all ended well. That time.
However, it might not always end well. There's something about getting an erection that seems to get a man's testosterone pumping, and they are not always ameniable to "no" at such a time. Some get angry, some get the sulks, so most women give in and give them what they want, even if they are so not in the mood that they are drier than the Sahara Desert in the middle of a heat wave in summer down in their nether regions. The man doesn't worry, he just wants to get his rocks off. Don't let him tell you it's all about love. Because it's not. Sex is an animal thing, it's nothing to do with love. Love is bringing you breakfast in bed and supporting you when you're stressed. Sex is all about getting your end away. It's just a game of 'hide the salami' and you can say "no." But you need to try and say "no" in a way that'll make him smile. (By the way, I'm not really intending to be sexually discriminatory here. It's just that a man doesn't have to verbally say "no." All he has to do is keep his little dried floral arrangement hanging as one flaccid soft on, and the woman will soon get the message that he's not in the mood. Yeah, who said life was fair.)
So, instead of the overused, "Not tonight dear, I have a headache," try one of the following:
1.Fart loudly as they cuddle up to you.
2.Jump out of bed, race to the bathroom and pretend to get sick.
3.Start gagging when they try and kiss you.
4.Pretend to go down to give a blow job, and then start coughing and spluttering all over their privates.
5.Ask if they have some sandpaper as you have a vaginal itch that simple scratching cannot alleviate.
6.Pretend that they have such bad body odour that you're almost passing out from the smell.
7.Start snoring loudly the minute your head hits the pillow.
8.Pick up a magazine and start flipping through the pages and feign disinterest in any attempt they might try to get intimate.
9.Accidentally pour a glass of cold water on their rod of iron.
10.Pour some water on the bed and say, "Oops, I just wet the bed."
11.Fake an orgasm before they even get started.
12.Ask, "Is it in yet?"
13.Start nagging about something they haven't done that they were supposed to have done.
14.Stare up at the ceiling and whistle tunelessly.
15.If all else fails, lie back and think of England.
Saying NO when you're on a date
Of course, this all depends on whether you'd like to see the person again or not, as to how you should deter amorous advances of the intimate kind. If you really do like the person, but it's more that you're not ready for sex or want to hold out until you get married, or prefer to know the person longer than five minutes before you get down and dirty, then sometimes honesty is the best policy. Explain your reasons for not wanting to play 'hide the salami' on the first date. You usually have a 50% chance of seeing the guy again. Unfortunately, there are so many others who put out, and if all the guy is looking for is a good time, they'll keep looking until they get it. Maybe you don't want to hurt their feelings and say "no", or maybe you said "no" and they thought you were just being funny and really meant "yes." What can you do to avoid committing the dastardly deed? What can you do to avoid sex?
So instead of the overused, "Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me," you can try the following:
1.When they drop their boxers, point and laugh hysterically.
2.When they reveal their little member, ask, "Is that all there is?"
3.Say, "Omigod, I have throw-up in my mouth!"
4."I'm just waiting for the results of my AIDS check. Can't believe my ex just found out he has AIDS."
5."Do you also have Herpes?"
6. "I always wanted to have a baby!"
7."I'm mentally a fifteen year old so if you have sex with me it'll be a felony."
8."I'm not drunk enough to find you a turn on."
9."Sorry, not that desperate."
10."I've always preferred older experienced men, like your father."
11."Is that your cologne I'm allergic to, or is it just you that's making me sneeze?"
12."You'll never earn enough money to pay for what I've got here."
13."Is Herpes catchy?"
14."Will sex cure a chronic vaginal itch?"
15."Sorry, no time for fun tonight, I have to bleach my pubic hair."
16."Can my mother watch to see if I'm doing it right?"
17."My Dad is so protective. He smashed up my ex-boyfriend's car."
18.Give him a giant condom and laugh hysterically when it's too big for his little member.
19.And if all else fails, "I am having such a heavy period this month, sex with me will be like a bloodbath in the worst horror movie ever."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Blame Game

The Blame Game
Adam must have an Eve, to blame for his own faults.
German Proverb

Blame is the lazy man’s wages.
Danish Proverb

People who blame others have perfected the art of ‘scapegoating’. Deep inside they believe that they are above reproach and they will lash out at anybody who criticises them and they’ll sacrifice whoever or whatever who tries to dent their self-image. They might tell you that they only did it for your own good, or they were trying to help or save you from yourself. The worst part, is that they get indignant when you don’t show proper thanks for what they did.
Blame is just a defense mechanism. The pain each person feels is real to them, and it’s often very painful to take responsibility for something that goes wrong or doesn’t work out. The only way out of playing the Blame Game, is to change your thinking and start taking responsibility for your actions, accept your past and learn to forgive others. It’s no good holding onto past hurts and using them as convenient excuses from time to time.
It is completely normal for someone with lots of fears, to believe that everything they feel is somebody else’s fault. We don’t want to take responsibility for our own fears. The Blame Game really gets into a higher gear, when each partner starts blaming the other for everything wrong in their lives. Their relationship becomes like a war zone, with each one sniping at the other. “I had a bad childhood, so I can’t help the way I am. If you were more understanding about that, then you wouldn’t force me to behave badly!”
That often results in the other partner sniping back, “Your bad behaviour has caused me to feel badly about myself and to think I’m worthless. Therefore, I’m too scared to think for myself and that’s your fault!” Of course in reality, the language they use might not be as savory as the language I used. Regardless of that, you cannot win in the Blame Game. Resentment, fear, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, anger – are all by-products of this game.
People who rush into rebound relationships after a break-up, are also playing the Blame Game. This isn’t really fair on the new partner who is usually an innocent Victim in the Game. Rebound relationships are just the hurt partner’s way of saying, “I wasn’t at fault for the break-up. Look, someone else wants me now. I am lovable and desirable after all, so the fact the relationship didn’t work out has got to be all your fault!”
That’s the beauty of always blaming others, we just blame everything bad that happens on someone else. That way we stay perfect because it’s never our fault. My youngest daughter is already a good player of this Game. A good example, and one that seems to happen quite often, is her bringing me a mug of coffee she made for me. My son, as usual, will be clowning around in the room. She’ll look at him and spill some coffee on the floor. Immediately, before anybody can even say anything, she’ll start shouting at him for making her spill the coffee. How did he do that? He was on the other side of the room at the time! My daughter’ll tell you, that he made her look at him, so therefore her spilling the coffee is solely his fault. She’s very clever. If she does something wrong, she’ll always react immediately with anger at all and sundry. She gets in first with the angry outburst, blaming others at the top of her voice, and that serves to take the attention away from what she did wrong. Unfortunately for her, we are all on to her, so she doesn’t get away with the Game she’s playing. Hopefully, she’ll eventually realise her strategy doesn’t work and will start accepting the responsibility for the things she does. At the moment though, her Blame Game is all about – ‘Look what you made me do!’
Other people are just as cunning, if not more. Steve used to push my friend Angela’s buttons, until she couldn’t take it anymore, so she would react emotionally, often with a huge outburst. His instigating, button-pushing and winding her up would be so subtle, that other people around her wouldn’t notice it. They would, however, notice Angela’s reaction, and they would sympathise with Steve for having such an ‘out-of-control’ wife. Steve would then have an excuse to physically ‘restrain’ Angela, as he was ‘worried’ she might harm herself. The sad thing, was that everybody agreed that the bruises Angela got every time Steve had to restrain her, was her fault. Even a therapist they saw, said that as long as Steve’s actions continued to arise out of good intentions, then it was okay! Steve managed to blame Angela for his bad behaviour, and he’s still getting away with it!
You have to remember, that people abuse or use you because there is something wrong with them. You haven’t done or said anything wrong – the problem lies with them. Basically, they have a low self-esteem. They don’t like themselves, and rather than trying to change what they don’t like, they make others take the responsibility for their behaviour when they lay the blame on them. Deep down, they know you don’t deserve it, so they hate themselves all the more for hurting you, so it’s all your fault that you make them hate themselves – it’s just a vicious cycle they can’t seem to break. Eventually over a period of time, they actually start believing it is all your fault, because that makes them feel as if they haven’t done anything wrong. You can’t try and explain things to them, or lay a guilt trip on them. In their eyes, they have done no wrong, so you are just wasting your breath.
Often, we blame others for holding us back. We might say, “If it weren’t for you …” or “If I didn’t have children, I would…” We use other people as a convenient excuse to avoid doing something. It’s easier to just give up, avoid taking that risk or making that decision, and putting the blame squarely on someone else.
A great example of this is Jason. (The poor man must surely be feeling his ears burning by now.) I can remember Jason wanting to buy a Mercedes Benz. As I was the only one bringing in an income, I told him we couldn’t afford it and had no need for it. Our Volkswagen was just fine for our family. Jason refused to accept the fact that we just could not afford a Mercedes. He tried many strategies to persuade me to let him trade in my Volkswagen for that Mercedes. First, he would introduce the fact that he just ‘happened to drive past the car yard and the Mercedes was still there – unsold, must be a sign’ into every conversation. When that didn’t pique my interest, I would have to hear how they let him take it for a test drive and it had the quietest motor ever. He went on and on about the Mercedes, and what a great deal they offered him on it. I stayed firm and held on to my “No, we can’t afford it.” When these tactics failed, the Blame Game started in all seriousness.
“You don’t want me to succeed in my life. You don’t want me to have anything better than you. You always have to be the best. You have to always be in control and the only successful member of the family. I could have been somebody if it wasn’t for you always holding me back to make you look good!” This was often accompanied by temper tantrums and things been thrown around and a helluva lot of swearing. At me naturally, because I was the bad person here. I took all of that blame and abuse, because I knew that we just could not afford that car.
His next attack, was that the reason he couldn’t sell any offshore investments and get commission so he could contribute to the family table, was because he didn’t drive a car befitting a successful businessman. His logic was, that if he drove around in a Mercedes, then people would see that he was successful, so then they would do business with him. Therefore, it was my fault that he didn’t contribute to the family income, as I wouldn’t let him drive a car befitting a successful businessman.
Then he changed tack. He told me that he hadn’t wanted to alarm me, or cause me worry, but the cylinder head in the Volkswagen had a huge crack in it, and he was expecting the engine to seize or the car to conk out and give up the ghost at any time. Not being a Petrolhead, I didn’t know what to look for in the engine to see whether or not he was telling the truth. I suspected that his story was all bullshit, but by this time I was so tired and exasperated with the whole car saga, that like a dumb mug, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and….yes. I relented.
Jason never explained the details of the great deal he had organised, to me and I stupidly assumed it was just the normal kind of Hire Purchase deal he had arranged. Well, what eventually came out, was that he used my Volkswagen as a deposit, and told them that he was a high earner and would pay 10 000 the one month and 15 000 the next. Just for the record, I was only earning 2 500 a month at the time! Needless to say, he never paid them a cent bar the initial deposit with my car as trade-in, and they repossessed the Mercedes the third month that he had it. My Volkswagen that was used as a deposit was lost in the deal that never was, and we were completely carless. The final straw, was when Jason turned to me after they took the car away, and said, “This is all your fault. If you had had the balls to stand up to me and say no, then this wouldn’t have happened!”
I have to say, that sometimes I think you can’t win. It’s like – you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. As you can well imagine, this little incident wasn’t very good for our marriage at all. Things got worse when I came home with a car I bought from a tax refund. Jason’s reaction was the classic, “Well what can I say? You are a better man than I’ll ever be!”
Serial Cheaters and Blame
Serial Cheaters thrive on playing the Blame Game. It gives them a reason to do what they’re doing, so it gets them ‘off the hook’. Because you do realise, that they’ll believe that what they’re doing is never their fault. They don’t get enough sex or attention at home, so they are ‘forced’ to go out elsewhere and find it. It’s not their fault they are forced to cheat! So the moral of the story is, don’t kill yourself trying to make someone happy who keeps finding ways to lay all the blame on you when they cheat. The same as, if you decide to stay with them and keep giving them chance after chance, then that is a choice you’ve made, and you can’t one day turn around and blame anyone for the choices you made. How often do you hear from friends, “I only stayed with him/her for the sake of the children.” What utter bullshit! How dare you blame the children, for you staying in a loveless unhappy relationship! You only stay in that relationship, because you are too scared to leave for whatever reason. The children are just an excuse, because reality shows that children adapt easily and are far happier in a loving happy home, than a home with unconcealed anger and resentment bouncing off the walls in every room. Children are not stupid just because they are young. No matter how hard their parents might try to disguise and hide their relationship problems, children always sense when things aren’t right and are very aware of what is going on.
Cheaters are quite predictable, because if they have done it more than once in the past, they’ll continue to do it in the future. Don’t ignore it and just hope that things will work out. Be honest, tell them what you don’t like and if they aren’t prepared to fix it, then you have to decide if you can live with it or not. If living with it makes you desperately unhappy, then move on. Remember, fix the problem and not the blame.
When you fall in love with an idea
Martin was devastated when he came home early one day, and found Cathy in bed with another man. He felt no less devastated, when he caught her a second time and then a third. Cathy blamed him for her infidelities. It was his fault because he was often too tired to pay her the attention she needed because he worked so hard. Martin started watching Cathy like a hawk, coming home at odd times, phoning to check she was home and alone. Cathy started accusing Martin of being a control-freak and would lose her rag and stomp out of the room when he questioned her about her activities. She told Martin he was being paranoid whenever he asked her if she still saw other men. Eventually, Cathy started getting aggressive and would pick up objects and throw them at Martin, or throw them at windows and break them. Martin started getting nervous and stopped asking Cathy questions, as he was scared of upsetting her and putting her in an aggressive mood. He started to believe that he was guilty of wrecking the relationship. Months of constantly being told his paranoia and being overly sensitive was going to push her into relationships with other men if he didn’t drop it, finally took their toll. Martin ended the relationship.
Martin realised that he fell in love with an idea – a fantasy that was backed up by things Cathy had promised initially. When Cathy’s actions contradicted his fantasy, he would start questioning her and that would lead to both parties playing the Blame Game. Paranoia and blame became the pattern of their relationship. Martin missed what he wanted to have in the relationship – the idea, his fantasy – what he kept hanging in there for and never had. Now, Martin has problems dealing with the demise of their relationship, because Cathy never took responsibility for her actions, and always put the blame for everything solely on Martin’s shoulders.
It’s amazing how constant blame can eat into our self-esteem, until we actually believe that we are responsible. Recognise blame for what it is and stop taking responsibility for others’ actions. When you stick to your guns and keep to your limits, you can be accused of being vindictive. So what? That is their problem, not yours.
Dishabiliophobia- Fear of undressing in front of someone.
Excerpt from my book, Fear, Phobias and frozen Feet.
Read my article on Common mistakes men make during sex

Welcome to my advice blog!

This is my first blog entry on my brand new relationship advice blog! I'll be posting some articles I wrote on here and also answering any relationship questions you might have. A survivor of an abusive marriage, I do have some great insights and strategies that you can use. But, most of all, I do have a great sense of humor, which you need I guess. I have written a book on breaking the cycle of bad relationships in your life, called Fear, Phobias and Frozen Feet. It can be purchased directly from or from my website I've also written a semi-autobiographical novel on the exploits of Fenella Fisher and her search to find love and the dream man. It also deals with her escape from an abusive marriage. I guess I'm quite interested in abuse and abusive relationships. Anyway, my novel is called Stop the world, I need to pee! and is also available from and off my website.

I've recently completed a new novel called The Case of Billy B which is in the publishing process. That deals with a little boy who is abused by his caregiver. Yeah, all sounds depressing, but it's not really. I guess, there is humor in every situation!

Love to hear from you and get comments!