Upside-Down & Inside-Out: A Blog About Abusive Relationships

Living with an abusive person means learning to live in a topsy-turvy world where normal rules do not apply. It is like the movie the Poseidon Adventure where the ship gets turned upside down and the floor is the ceiling and the ceiling the floor. Yet, somehow I did break out of the invisible cage my first wife had built around me even though it was the hardest thing I've ever done. So this blog is about how we learn to live with abuse and then unlearn; it's based on my personal experience.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

EMOTIONAL VAMPIRES - How Abusive People Drain And Control Those They Love

This Is Part Of The 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.


Blogger Helen said...

Wow! I live with someone just as you descibed. I have never been able to put it into words and you did it! How does one talk to someone like this? I have tried and tried and just as you described and just like you, I get no sympathy or understanding when it comes to my feelings, wants or needs, even when I am exhausted or explain that I am in physical pain from being overworked. If I push the issued I am afraid of a rage of anger. And just like you I have lived with this person for 10 years and I have shut down expressing myself, but I am trying to get it back because I am a good person and have given and given and I deserve to be heard. I deserve to be taken care of and appreciated once in a while. I have had it. How do you get out of a relationship like this?

10:15 PM  
Blogger helen said...

Here is a second Helen with a comment. Like you, Rick, - hope I remembered your correct name - I was in an extremely abusive marriage for a little more than 40 years. It wasn't until I became physically handicapped and was forced to face my radically altered future life that I realized what was happening. Even then, I wonder if I would have known if a wonderful friend hadn't "called" my husband on his behavior one day.

After our divorce, I found a wonderful man through an Internet dating subscription. With my partner, I have learned what love and acceptance is, and together we have learned what a good relationship can be. We share our emotions and needs and do our best to support each other whether we share a particular interest or not. Sometimes one of us will be overwhelmed with how lucky we are that we found each other. Our life together is wonderful.

After my divorce, I spent a lot of time thinking about past behaviors of my ex-husband, our two children, and myself, and wondering what the caused the words or actions. I learned more about my ex-husband and myself as I did that. Now I am using the Internet to learn more.

Thank you, Rick.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Professor Zero said...

Good blog - are you still posting?

11:08 AM  
Blogger Renie said...

Excellent post on your situation with your ex. I have a very close friend whose wife must be the emotional twin of yours. He is finally starting to realize that his soul is being chipped away. I think he finally realizes that all of his friends and family knew what they were talking about over the last 14 years. We can only hope that he has the good sense to get away from this emotional vampire.

1:33 PM  
Blogger JC said...

Dear Rick,
Thank you for your blog. Being married to such a person for 15 years, I've never been able to articulate my situation as well as you have. He has stripped me down of everything & I am fully dependent on him along with our 2 children. I've tried to keep my marriage together but it's now become impossible despite marriage counseling.

I've had nightmares about werewolves that are also vampires & me being in a frantic state as the sun went down. I had a plan to kill it but was doubting if I could pull it off.

Thank you for your insight. You have no idea how much you've helped. I've decided to work towards getting out of this abusive relationship in a calm manner.

3:27 AM  
Blogger Klaeton said...

There is another slant to this discussion.

I believe there are different ways people react to situations.
Abuse is only one of them.
Passive Aggressive is not the same as abuse but a kind of silent abuse for example.

There are many 'Abusers'
Who certainly have no right to abuse that is for sure but are pushed to the wall by people who do not listen, do not change, have endless arguments which have no result whatsoever etc.

They push a person to the point of explosion then blame the person and call them an Emotional Vampire.

These people take control of relationships by acting like the victim or indeed believing that they are a victim. They take no responsibility for their own actions because they are not responsible for anything, they in their mind are the poor person who is hard done by.
Some even enjoy living this way it gives them something to talk about and they always have people feeling sorry for them which gets them attention.

This form of control is enough to make many Abusers snap.

I say 'some abusers are the ones who need to get out of relationships and find someone that does not push them to the edge all the time' because
They are the victims of people who drive them out of their mind every day but they must stay kids, work etc.

After the abuser snaps he feels bad of course because nobody wants to abuse anybody.
He thinks about losing his kids, job whatever and becomes Mr Nice Guy until one day he cant take it anymore again.

This is the definition of an Emotional Vampire right?

When a persons need have been ignored and or misunderstood for so long they live in a world of frustration which will eventually get vented somewhere.

You hear of people saying I always end up with Violent Partners or Abusers whatever, is it not possible that their personality provokes normal everyday people so much that they lose the plot and snap. Then they feel sorry for themselves and have their mindset that they are victims re-enforced.

Here is a typical example of how abuse begins.

Person is in a cool calm mode wants to get the point across he fails, trys again fails, trys again fails etc.
Snaps Scream you are no good yada yada why do you not f****ng listen to me you..... piece of sh*t.
And so on.

So here is the question that I believe will fill my email inbox.

Is it not possible that some people bring the Abuse upon themselves by constantly Provoking, Not Changing, Accepting No Responsibility for their part but blaming and acting like a victim & Most Importantly not listening the the persons many attempts explain what they need or how they feel until they snap and scream it at them.
Then once again after being screamed at them the 'Victim' gets to be a victim.

My conclusion: any human relationship needs compromise and understanding.
Next time you are abused stop and ask your self this honest question....

Is there perhaps some part of my action or behavior that has led this person to Abuse me?
If the answer is honestly no then why do I stay in this situation.
If you stay maybe deep down you know that you somewhat bring it on yourself.

I must point out that all I am saying is not always the circumstance it is just one way of looking at some situations.
I'm sure not to many people are wanting to really hear this kind of opinion but honestly it could be the starting point for you to take action in your relationships and STOP BEING ABUSED!

I am also not saying Abuse is acceptable in any way it is horrible and terrible for both the Abuser and The Receiver.

I am simply saying.

Don't act like a Victim.
Don't use the fact that the person freaks out and abuses you re-enforce you that you are right and they are wrong.
Be prepared to change together.
Be Aware of yourself.
Be aware of your partner.

12:59 AM  
Blogger JawsOfLife said...

I am floored as I read your article. I used to have dreams about people/vampires. I was raised with abuse by adoptive father and brother. Mother kept silent. I walked away from them all.

Currently I am attending a religious fellowship where the "worship" leader is everything you described in this article. At a recent meeting to air out differences, everything you described was evident to me and another women. But the men (including the pastor) did the opposite of what needed to be done. The vampire was cajoled, encouraged, etc., even when he became furious when I repeated what he had said to me. In fact, he began to get out of his chair, but the pastor (seeking reconciliation) gently put his hand on his chest, told him to sit down, and to relax. UNBELIEVABLE. I will be handing this article to the pastor. I pray that he listens. I pray for the sake of everyone in that congregation. Especially the children. I believe he is a child abuser to.

Vampires like to attach themselves to religious gatherings. We must be aware and vigilant!

Thank you sooo much for this article. Most sincerely, Isa in Oregon

11:18 PM  
Blogger operator said...

This type of abuse sounds like someone who has borderline personality disorder. Check out the wikipedia article:

I dated someone like this. It was hell! But after time and much work, I got over it.

1:55 PM  
Blogger HELPLESS said...

This post has been removed by the author.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Klaeton said...


Stop feeling sorry for yourself, God will not help you because he gave you free will. If you are not happy leave! I am tired of hearing people blaming other people for stealing their joy. Go out and get your joy if that is what you want.

You are 24 years old, for god's sake go get a life if you are so unhappy there are plenty more dudes out there or perhaps if you are keen you could find a nice young lady to give you some joy.

I am not going to pray for you because you have the ability to change your own situation.

One more thing make sure you delete your history in your browser before he finds it and beats you senseless!!

Summary spend less time feeling sorry for yourself and more time changing your life.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I have just broken up with my boyfriend/ ex fiance' because of the reason you stated in your article. I couldn't put a name to what I felt until I read your article. Thank yu so much, I know I'm not crazy, but he was making me this way. Thanks again Liz

6:57 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Why do younot have this article so it can be e-mailed?

7:36 PM  

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