EMOTIONAL VAMPIRES - How Abusive People Drain And Control Those They Love
This Is Part Of The AbusiveLove.com Website
A lack of empathy is a major sign that the one you love is abusive or has a personality disorder according to the current thinking in psychology.
But I think this view only scratches the surface and that the truth is much more sinister.
It is not that abusive people don't understand others' feelings; I think that, in their own way, they understand these emotions very well. It's that an abusive person chooses not to acknowledge those feelings because to do so would take attention away from him or her.
I believe abusive people understand intimately how those they love feel but use that understanding to control them. If the abusive person can pretend to not understand, then he or she has more power to manipulate the other. Also abusive people hide this understanding because it creates another layer that the loved one must pass through to establish communication. Thus this deception makes it even harder for the loved one to assert himself or herself.
Whew! It sure does get complicated for those of us who don't think this way or even imagine that living like this is real. Yet I believe it is, and unfortunately many of us must deal this twisted point of view.
My ex-wife, for example, knew that I liked to help people and that I got a lot of joy from this. Yet after years of helping her and listening to her and sympathizing with her but not getting much in return, I needed more. But instead of responding and giving back as I asked, she criticized me saying that I was changing from a giving person to a selfish person and what was wrong? Knowing me as she did, she was certain this would stop me dead in my tracks. And for many years it did.
I do not remember a time that she simply offered her understanding when I was sad or exhausted or overworked, although she required this from me on a daily basis. The only moments she voluntarily expressed sympathy was when (I realized later) she was trying to hide something.
But it gets even worse. Early on in a relationship abusive people sink their teeth into their victims and connect with them in a deep and profound way. While it feels like love and is initially quite joyful, it is more like an infection or an addiction. And it is something that only the abusive person can supply. How this works is still a mystery to me, but these vampires understand our feelings better than we do when it comes to digging their hooks far into our souls. Later when the victim tries to leave, he or she will be pulled back to that initial joyful feeling by the abused person and the victim will find it very difficult, if not impossible to get away.
This means that abusive people are more calculating, more cold blooded, more masterful and have less morality than we ever imagined. Sympathy is doled out in small doses when it will do the most good; empathy is seen as a tool the abusive person can use to keep a loved one in line.
It is very sad that these people do not comprehend the true nature of love and therefore are deprived of it. They have no understanding of a partnership, for example, in which emotions and vulnerabilities are freely expressed and shared. They are always, in a sense, alone.
Abusive people instead see everything in terms of control. So God forbid if you, the abused person, decide to assert yourself and insist that your feelings be taken into account. The abusive one will see it as an attempt on your part to take over and therefore he or she will become quite angry.
But why do we get involved with these people to begin with? Much has been made of the concept of enablers, that is people who willingly go along with abusive partners. I believe this notion is often wrong. The abusive are attracted to fun loving, lively, joyful people because the abusive ones are dead inside and hope they can somehow tap into a life energy. If we are giving people, we may believe that we can help them. But like vampires they will suck us dry and eventually try to control our every move.
For example, a woman told me about her abusive husband who, after several years of marriage, asked her to explain the smallest things. When she got up from the couch and went to put a glass in the sink, he wanted to know why she was doing that.
In another simple everyday example, my ex-wife, after ten years of marriage, began to correct my way of speaking. Being an English major, I knew how to talk, yet she decided she did not like certain phrases I used and told me not to say them. Every couple of months she would add another expression to her list. Her constant vigilance and corrections made me self-conscious and shut down my normally expressive nature. And when I became quiet she chided me for not being more demonstrative the way I used to be. I started to sense I was in a cage. And when I finally did manage to end our marriage, I felt that I had been set free.
So while we might sympathize with those who unfortunately are vampires, their actions are poison to healthy people. No matter how charming they may appear, how unfair their lot in life, we must learn to keep away from them or we too will join the undead.