Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Part II

Yesterday, Liz Young shared intimate details from her personal journey to finding her voice. Today, Liz shares more of her story and strength. First, I will share some of the resources I have gathered.

So, what makes a relationship abusive? Let us take a moment, raise a few questions, raise some awareness, and look deeply — beyond the word violence — which often takes on a meaning of its own.

It is cruel to inflict hurt and physical violence on another person. It is also evil to hurt someone with verbal abuse, emotional abuse and psychological manipulation. These are all unacceptable. They are all damaging, crippling, and can leave a person so wounded that they can hardly stand themselves or the thought of going on. In an effort to raise awareness, we will share as much information as possible, through helpful website links, excerpts from articles and an interview with Liz Young of The Spermwhale and the Bowl of Petunias, a survivor, a woman who has found her voice, and someone who fights to help others find their voice as well.

“Psychological Manipulation is a type of social emotional influence that aims to change the behavior or perceptions of others through deceptive and underhanded tactics.”

Tactics of Emotional abuse

Alienation – The act of cutting off or interfering with an individual’s relationships with others.

Baiting – A provocative act used to solicit an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another individual.

Belittling, Condescending and Patronizing – This kind of speech is a passive-aggressive approach to giving someone a verbal put-down while maintaining a facade of reasonableness or friendliness.

Blaming – The practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.

Bullying – Any systematic action of hurting a person from a position of relative physical, social, economic or emotional strength.

Bunny Boiling – Bunny Boiling is a reference to an iconic scene in the movie “Fatal Attraction” in which the main character Alex, who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, kills the family’s pet rabbit and boils it on the stove. Bunny Boiling has become a popular reference to how people sometimes exhibit their rage by behaving destructively towards symbolic, important or treasured possessions or representations of those whom they wish to hurt, control or intimidate.

Cheating – Sharing a romantic or intimate relationship with somebody when you are already committed to a monogamous relationship with someone else.

Compulsive Lying – Compulsive Lying is a term used to describe lying frequently out of habit, without much regard for the consequences to others and without having an obvious motive to lie. A compulsive liar is someone who habitually lies.

Cruelty to Animals – Acts of Cruelty to Animals have been statistically discovered to occur more often in people who suffer from personality disorders than in the general population.

Dependency – An inappropriate and chronic reliance by an adult individual on another individual for their health, subsistence, decision making or personal and emotional well-being.

Emotional Blackmail – A system of threats and punishments used in an attempt to control someone’s behaviors.

Engulfment – An unhealthy and overwhelming level of attention and dependency on another person, which comes from imagining or believing one exists only within the context of that relationship.

False Accusations – Patterns of unwarranted or exaggerated criticism directed towards someone else.

Favoritism – Favoritism is the practice of systematically giving positive, preferential treatment to one child, subordinate or associate among a family or group of peers.

FOG – Fear, Obligation & Guilt – The acronym FOG, for Fear, Obligation and Guilt, was first coined by Susan Forward & Donna Frazier in Emotional Blackmail and describes feelings that a person often has when in a relationship with someone who suffers from a personality disorder. Our website, Out of the FOG, is named after this acronym.

Frivolous Litigation – The use of unmerited legal proceedings to hurt, harass or gain an economic advantage over an individual or organization.

Gaslighting – The practice of brainwashing or convincing a mentally healthy individual that they are going insane or that their understanding of reality is mistaken or false. The term “Gaslighting” is based on the 1944 MGM movie “Gaslight”.

Harassment – Any sustained or chronic pattern of unwelcome behavior by one individual towards another.

Hoovers & Hoovering – A Hoover is a metaphor taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship, gets “sucked back in” when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior.

Hysteria – An inappropriate over-reaction to bad news or disappointments, which diverts attention away from the real problem and towards the person who is having the reaction.

Imposed Isolation – When abuse results in a person becoming isolated from their support network, including friends and family.

Infantilization – Treating a child as if they are much younger than their actual age.

Mirroring – Imitating or copying another person’s characteristics, behaviors or traits.

Name-Calling – A form of Verbal Abuse which people sometimes indulge in when their emotional thought processes override their rational thought processes.

No-Win Scenarios – No-Win Scenarios and Lose-Lose Scenarios are situations commonly created by people who suffer from personality disorders where they present two bad options to someone close to them and pressure them into choosing between the two. This usually leaves the non-personality-disordered person with a ‘damned if I do and damned if I don’t‘ feeling.

Objectification – The practice of treating a person or a group of people like an object.

Pathological Lying – Persistent deception by an individual to serve their own interests and needs with little or no regard to the needs and concerns of others. A pathological liar is a person who habitually lies to serve their own needs.

Perfectionism – The maladaptive practice of holding oneself or others to an unrealistic, unattainable or unsustainable standard of organization, order, or accomplishment in one particular area of living, while sometimes neglecting common standards of organization, order or accomplishment in other areas of living.

Push-Pull – A chronic pattern of sabotaging and re-establishing closeness in a relationship without appropriate cause or reason.

Ranking and Comparing – Drawing unnecessary and inappropriate comparisons between individuals or groups.

Raging, Violence and Impulsive Aggression – Explosive verbal, physical or emotional elevations of a dispute that are disproportionate to the situation at hand.

Sabotage – The spontaneous disruption of calm or status quo in order to serve a personal interest, provoke a conflict or draw attention.

Silent Treatment – A passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse in which displeasure, disapproval and contempt is exhibited through nonverbal gestures while maintaining verbal silence.

Targeted Humor, Mocking and Sarcasm – Targeted Humor is any sustained pattern of joking, sarcasm or mockery which is designed to reduce another individual’s reputation in their own eyes or in the eyes of others.

Testing – Repeatedly forcing another individual to demonstrate or prove their love or commitment to a relationship.

Please, be aware. Please, spread awareness. Please, be mindful of how you confront and think of those who are hurting, stuck and lost. It could happen to any of us.


Liz Young shares more of her story:

He would push knives into my “lazy” right nipple because it was “broken” because it didn’t stand “erect” so that “meant it wasn’t aroused”, but if I showed my naked body when I didn’t tell him to, it was disgusting and fat. He would choke me during sex, and he refused foreplay because I was “dirty and smelly” so the friction would hurt me so badly that I was raw, and it would hurt for weeks to pee. If I addressed him that the sex was painful, then he would say, “Well you’re the one who wanted it. If you want sex so bad, go get a boyfriend. I have a lot of leg problems. You’re lucky you even GOT sex.”

I had to give sex to him when and how he wanted it or else he would say, “Oh you must not love me”, or he said he would “get it from the girls at work” and I was terrififed of STDS. Every time a family member would die, he would not allow me to grieve. Every time I was sick, I was not allowed to be sick. These were times when he wanted sex the most. When I was weak. And if I would not give it freely, he would take it from me. If he could not perform himself, he would use vibrators that were far too large for me. He didn’t let himself stop from hurting me. The more he hurt me, the happier it made him. He sodomized me one day, and I had to go to the doctor’s office and get my perineum glued up. She wanted to put stitches in, but I laughed and said, “Well, you never know, he might want to try again.” Denial. Laughter. Everything was okay. It was just the one time.

The more and more scared you are, the less you can think. It’s how the brain works. The less you can think, the less you can plan. The less you can plan, well, how do you make a plan to escape? The last two years I was with him, he was threatening to kill me every day, telling me I should kill myself, and threatening to kill himself. One day, I was at work, and I was terrifically numb, but I could not stop crying and I had no idea why. I called my sister, and she told me I was depressed. It runs in my family. She told me she had known for a while. I didn’t understand how she knew. She told me to call my mom. We went behind my husband’s back and went into the doctor’s office and got me on a prescription of Prozac. Two days later I confessed to my husband. He exploded on me. Told me I was crazy, my whole family was f@@king crazy, and that I was garbage. He also told me that he would make more lists for me to be able to complete things so that would help me with my depression. He had a brief honeymoon phase the next day, the day before I left him, and I noticed it, felt it, and knew, then it was time. It was time to leave.

The day I left him, I dropped him off to work, he demanded that I tell him I loved him, and I mumbled it at him. He looked at me with disgust. I was pathetic to him. He told me he was going to go have sex with the girls at work. I told him to go ahead. I went home, got my clothes, my cats, and went to my moms. I texted him a few hours later, and told him I was going to stay at my mom’s. He harrassed me for a few hours. He was angry on the phone, trying to bully me, demanding me bring my cat Majel back, then demanding me come back, then back to demanding for me to bring back Majel. I told him if he really loved Majel he would want both of the cats. I was crying, emotional. The next day, he changed the lock on the apartment, cleaned out the bank account, bought himself a car, told me I was garbage and it was over.

I thank you, Liz, for your bravery, for sharing such intimate details. I pray someone will read this, realize there is light, and that they are inspired to seek that light.

Q: Some of the most beautiful things in life are unexpected – where do you find unexpected beauty and healing?

A: Knitting, charity, cats, horses, children, watching documentaries about the holocaust (very unexpected, I know). Holocaust survivors show me that even despite torture, that they show unbelievable amounts of forgiveness and recovery from tragic torture and pain. I am infinitely inspired by them.

Q: What are some of your favorite affirmations? If you enjoy writing, what is something that you have come up with – a poem or quote – that you would not mind sharing?

A; Well… here are just a few…

The most important thing that anyone ever told me, was that I was strong. I didn’t realize that. I had always felt weak. My therapist told me, “You had to be strong. If you weren’t strong, you couldn’t have survived this. And look how long you were with him? And it took a LOT of strength to get away. It takes a lot of strength to stay, and it takes a lot of strength to walk away.”

One thing I realized throughout my pain is this, that the adage that it takes two people to make a relationship work, is right, but I had to add to it. It takes two to make a relationship work, but it only takes one to make a relationship fail, because if that one person isn’t working on the relationship, the relationship WILL NOT work.

“You will not silence my voice now that I have found it. Like a lost toy I had to dust it off, revamp it, But it is my voice even if I had to refine it Retune it Take out the scratches and whistles, Squeals and squeaks from lack of use, From being crushed, hushed, shushed, brushed away and redirected and abused. My voice is me and it is mine Even if I talk like the Muppets from time to time.”– Liz Young

“No matter what you may think, you are the Author of your life. Each of us writes a story. And they are all unique. Even the boring days are colored by interesting thoughts, by our imaginations, our own perceptions, and our own experiences. We all have something to add to the world.” — Liz Young

“I am not the same person that I used to be, but we are related.” — Liz Young

“You’re talking to a lady who had her heart broken, cried continuous hours, yelled and screamed for help; a girl who gave everything for the world, before learning how to sometimes help herself.” — Liz Young ”

“It doesn’t hurt to be optimistic. You can always cry later.” — Lucimar Santos de Lima

“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to perservere and endure in spite of overwhelmin obstacles.” — Christopher “Superman” Reeve

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” — Winston Churchill

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything the mind could invent…” — Arthur Conan Doyle

“It is better to be alone than with someone who makes you feel alone.” — Unknown

“Don’t panic.” — Douglas Adams

“It has to hurt if it’s to heal.” — The Neverending Story, Michael Ende

“Sometime life can be tough. But always remember, so are you.” — Unknown


Thanks, Liz.  Bless you.

Thanks to those who visited and read her story – whether you know it or not, you are helping to spread awareness.

  1. Barb W. said:

    Such and important topic, thanks for spreading awareness! Interesting information and interview. Didn’t realize there were so many classifications of abuse. Enlightening!

  2. Wow! So powerful and sad and encouraging and inspiring. I am amazed by the strength of the human spirit and Liz’s incredible viewpoints of her own. So glad I read this. Thank you!

  3. I really found all of those definitions so interesting. Some I had never heard of.

  4. I think any kind of abuse is definitely cruel. Such a great interview and so helpful. It’s hard to imagine the number of people who have to go through abuse, especially domestic as it’s with someone you love and care about.

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