Saturday, July 23, 2011

Its not a Communication Problem. Its not an Anger Managment Problem.

Posted by Hannah at 1:11 PM

Can't see Video?  Click here.

All to often when abuse victims try to describe what is happening in their life they are told they have ‘communication’ problems.

That is one of the biggest misunderstandings it seems to me.  It isn’t a communication problem between the two parties at all.

On occasion my children and I watch Teen Mom.  One of the couples since the show started was Amber and Gary.  Amber in this case is the abusive party.  Gary on the other hand seems to be the enabler, along with the victim.

I don’t think most people blame a couple for trying to stay together, because they have a child.  If you watch Amber she got herself into trouble for physically attacking Gary, and like most abusive people has a really hard time dealing with the consequences.

I wasn’t able to upload these video clips to youtube due to copyright, and you may have to download Adobe Flash in order to view it the video I have supplied.

One thing you notice is that abusive people refuse to handle the ugly sides of things most of the time.  I can empathize being scared because you know the police and child protective services is looking to speak to you.  Anyone in their right mind would be a bit intimidated and scared.  Amber on the other hand handles this in true abuser fashion.

It’s the way they handle anxiety that causes conflict.  Its not a communication problem, and its not an anger problem.  They divert this anxiety to other things, and attempt to start fights.  They next thing you know they are saying things to bait you into saying something they can attack you over.  They are screaming irrational stuff that makes no sense.  You are often left confused, and wondering how the conversation got to the point it did. 

Lets look at the first scene:

not-acting-rationalRight away Gary is trying to approach this ugly circumstance in a smart way.  He wants to speak to Amber about getting lawyer, before they deal with the police or Child Protective Services.  Notice how they can’t even have that conversation!

The police want to talk to Amber, and she doesn’t want to deal with this at all.

“So you do thing it would be smart for me to get a lawyer, or do you think it would be smart for me to go to jail?”

“So, if a lawyer is more than jail should I just go to jail?”

You can tell by Gary’s face he realizes she is attempting to bait him into a fight.  She rambles off two irrational questions right off the bat.

She doesn’t want to deal with this.  She doesn’t want to get a lawyer.  She doesn’t want to talk about this.

Gary at this point is attempting to communicate with a person that is going into her irrational mindset.  When abusers get like this?   There is no talking to them. 

I realize some people would tell you then approach it at a different time.  What they REFUSE to acknowledge is this is HOW abusive people deal with anxiety and fear – and there IS no GOOD time to approach this.

Amber would much rather fight if Gary doesn’t shut up, and make this go away.  Amber would rather blame Gary for this happening to begin with.  We all know that things can’t be approached in that fashion.  The victim is placed between a rock and hard place.  You already know a fight is going to happen, because the irrational nature has already started.

She is combative because she thinks the world should leave her alone, and if it has to happen GARY can pay for it!  Why?  Its his fault this happened, and he needs to pay for the consequences.

“The next time someone calls for me how about your give me the phone” – as if she could handle this circumstance.    As if that has anything to do with the conversation. 

When Gary points out they wanted to talk to him as well?  She goes off on this rage about how it doesn’t matter, because its her life that is being affected.  She is the one looking at trouble and jail time.  This is ALL ABOUT HER!  In reality?  The circumstance is not all about her.  Its about Gary, Amber and their child.  Abusive parties can’t see things in a healthy manner.  They see how it is affected them, and that is all that matters.not-an-anger-problem

“Pretty much this is what is going to happen!  You’re Scott Free!  My Ass is in Jail for no reason at all!  If it were you going to jail it would be a whole different situation.   Its all about ME now Gary!  Its not all about YOU! “

Gary wasn’t making it about HIM.  He was making it about HER when he suggested she needs to find a lawyer.

People can pick apart conversations like this all they wish.    How they could have done this better – or that better.

Until society can face the fact that when abuser rages, and there doesn’t have to be a ‘reason’ for it?  That buttons don’t have to be pushed?

People will deny help to victims, and basically enable abusers to continue.

In the second scene?  You notice that abusive people can keep control in certain circumstances – like with her and child at the beginning.

When they come off the rage?  They will whine to their victims, “You know I’m a good mother”.  Say you feel sorry for me.  Say I’m great.  Again all about them, and how you need to cater to this.  They already told you in their rage how this is your fault, and now I’m not so mad please tell me what I need to hear.

How would any rational person react to this?  Again this is NOT a communication problem or an anger problem.

In scene three you notice Amber states THEY decided it was time to get a lawyer.  If we remember this is what Gary was trying to get across to her in the first scene, and she couldn’t deal with it.  Now it was ‘their’ decision.  Okay then.

You also notice it is not AMBER that is making the phone call to find a lawyer but Gary.   Most victims will do this because they realize if the job was left up to the abusive party?  They would be looking at another rage session afterwards.  Abusive people have a very low tolerance level for anxiety.

You also notice that Gary is the one that needs to introduce the circumstances to the lawyer, and again Amber decides to tell him that “THEY” decided to get a lawyer.  Gary doesn’t need a lawyer – she does.  Abusive people tend to look at relationship as an extension of themselves.  THEY don’t need this attorney – Amber does.  Amber looks at this as ‘their’ problem, and not mostly ‘her problem’ that she caused.

The lawyer addresses Amber, and makes sure she realizes what could happen due to her actions.  He doesn’t ask them as a couple if what he is saying worries ‘them’ but worries HER!

Sadly, you can pretty much predict another rage is going to come. 

In scene four – Amber is stressed now, and feels Gary doesn’t understand.  Really?  Who’s idea was it to get the lawyer?  Who was the one pleading with her about WHY she needed one?  Here we have her in the irrational state once again.

Amber then goes on her tirade about how Gary needs to learn how to respect her.  Amber never clues into the fact she doesn’t respect him, or the circumstance that she placed herself in.

not-a-communication-problemAmber whines, “Everything is my fault for hitting you, but the thing is Gary …what was it that provoked those situations?”

Gary states, “I’m not having this conversation, because nothing I did should have provoked you enough to hit me!”

Amber yells back, “YOU HAVE NOTHING!!! GOING THROUGH NOTHING!!!  Except that maybe YOUR daughter maybe taken away from YOU!  You going through NOTHING”

Gary responds, “She’s not being taken away from me!”


Amber shouts back, “I’m so sick and tired of EVERYTHING you do!   EVERYTHING you’ve DONE!  Everything that has ever happened between us!   I’m so sick of EVERYTHING! “

Gary responds, “Is that why you hit me?”

Amber snidely says, “I HATE you!  Gary I’m done.  I’m going to F**king go!”

Victims are to OWN what the abuser decides they need to.  They are to shut up and take it.  One thing you notice they will not do is deal with their actions, admit any wrong, or own any part of what happened.  Gary attempted to listen and be supportive, but she went to far.  She then gets mad when he doesn’t take it.

In the final scene Amber is whining to her friend.  She starts off much the same way as she did with Gary, but you notice she doesn’t attack her or be snarky towards the friend.

She whines to her friend that she tried to talk about Gary about how this circumstance is very stressful for her, and how Gary doesn’t understand.  How Gary doesn’t care. 

Then to make sure that her friend gives her the sympathy she feels she deserves?  She purposefully twists the dialog between them to her friend by leaving key parts of the conversation out.  She told her friend that Gary doesn’t care, because he said that CPS is going to take Leah away from YOU and NOT ME!

Recently, on the board there was an abusive male posting about his relationship.  He talked to the board like he trying to be a reformed abuser.  He was trying to show a bit more openness than Amber seems to be capable of.  The next thing you know his wife comes on, and lets the board member know what he was leaving out of his points.  He got called on the deception, and got defensive and announced he wouldn’t ever come back.  Confrontation towards themselves is something they flee from.

Its not a communication problem.  Its not an angry problem.  Its an entitlement mindset with narcissistic behaviors throw in.  Rages are much different than anger.  If society can’t grasp this?  Sadly, they tend to be more blind than those the accuse.  Its not that hard to understand, and when national TV shows examples?  Why is it people still don’t get it?  Seriously.  They need to think about that.

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Mara Reid on 9:05 AM said...

I hate the "you are having a communication problem" just as much as I hate, "it takes two to tango."
You know what?
It only takes one person to destroy a relationship. It doesn't take two. If one person is determined to destroy, there is nothing the other person can do to save it.

Anonymous said...

Like Mara, I don't like this either.
I'm dealing with a emotionally abusive guy and my last long term relationship was with a physical abuser and it took me years to see how he was manipulating me and baiting me to anger with him, then he would take that and justify choking me.

It doesn't take 'two to tango' as someone tried to say to me recently. This emotionally abusive ex actually got angry with me and told me how frustrated he was that we couldn't communicate and how everything was some big fight, when I see the problem is his anger and over-reaction to everything I say or do.

& if I don't cave, like Gary, it turns super super ugly. I actually asked him yesterday about this supposed "communication problem' which he keeps telling others is a combo of both of us. I asked him what he specifically meant and all he could say was how it was my fault and how I was angry and once again, it was me me me.

The crazy part to me is how much he is so convinced of his side and how he is lying to others about threatening me. My current ex doesn't call me names or do the obvious stuff but since I became financially dependent on him he has been very angry and threatened me with not having a place to live shortly after the breakup. The last time he made the same thing really clear and he goes around trying to elicit sympathy trying to say how he was such a nice guy letting me move in when he had encouraged me to quit my job and brought it up first.

:/ The list goes on and on... I don't see how anyone can reason with this level of ridiculousness!!!

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