Sunday, September 13, 2020

Understanding Emotional Abuse

Understanding Emotional Abuse 

(Through Cluster B Personality Disorders)

[This article is currently featured on the website Thought Catalog. Click here to access it.]

Before you read, please note that this article is not intended to pathologize anyone. It’s purpose is to distinguish between and offer clarification for different types of emotional abuse.

Narcissism is such a popular buzzword online that many posts/communities lump all forms of abuse under, not realizing that often what they’re describing can be better explained by Psychopathy/Sociopathy or Borderline tendencies.
Here are descriptions of them as well as how they compare/differ:
Narcissists are known for being charming, captivating, and conceited, when it’s all just a facade for hiding their insecurities and inferiority complex. They may take advantage of or manipulate others for selfish gains. There are many articles on this type of emotional abuse, so I won’t get too into it, but they may gaslight or dismiss their targets to protect their reputation and personal interests.
Example: Person A is performative around neighbors and friends for external validation. In public, she showers her daughter with affection but is bitter, rude, and condescending behind closed doors. If her daughter confronts her about it, she’ll usually guilt trip her into thinking it’s her fault for not being grateful enough.
Psychopaths/Sociopaths have a flare for sadism. There is a blatant disregard for others and humanity, especially boundaries and laws, which they perceive themselves as being above. There is no remorse for the pain they cause, as they deem it necessary since it is needed to accomplish their goals and confirmation for their perceived superiority, or it is simply amusing.
Example: Person B (Psychopath) constantly viewed himself as being above others (intellectually/philosophically) and had an arrogance when he didn’t get his way. He was incredibly cold, cynical, and callous, often detached from his emotions. His feelings had a shallow range of being either happy or angry, with nothing in between. He was very controlling in his relationships. He thought it was funny to show his girlfriend disturbing videos, even though they gave her nightmares.
Person C always lacked responsibility, a key trait of Sociopathy, since she didn’t hold onto jobs for long or get along well with others. She obviously disregarded people’s boundaries, never took accountability for her actions, possessing the same arrogance as Person B, but with no founded accomplishments or skill set to justify it.
Borderline tendencies are synonymous with relationship instability, emotional dysregulation, and lacking insight. These are often fueled from a constant fear of abandonment or rejection by one’s peers.
Example: Person D always had a clingy, overly possessive, obsessive, “me me me!!!” persona. He displayed patterns of idealization, putting friends on a pedestal, then devaluing them completely, making them look like the bad guy—a defamation of their character. (His friendships had a hot/cold, love/hate quality to them.) He often had no idea why he acted this way if he recognized it or was unaware of it completely. He was engaged in many self-harming and detrimental habits. (i.e. addiction, binge eating, impulsive spending, risky sexual encounters, etc.) Overly anxious, unable to regulate these attention seeking behaviors and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
As you can see with all of these descriptions, Narcissism is very similar—the lack of empathy runs throughout. But there is a difference between that and a lack of regard for others well-being/lack of remorse and an instability/complete lack of insight.
To simplify:
Lack of Empathy = Not understanding someone else’s emotions, experiences, or perspectives
Lack of Regard/Remorse = Being sadistic, having no guilt or regret for causing one pain or breaking a rule/boundary
Lack of Insight = The lines of right/wrong are unclear and boundaries are blurred. No true awareness into actions that are harmful to others or self-control to understand such actions/prevent them
All are very similar, just not exactly the same
Also, it’s important to note:
—Psychopathy is usually genetic
—Sociopathy is usually environmental, brought on by bullying/harsh criticism/abuse
—Narcissism is often the product of emotional neglect
—Borderline is often the result of abandonment or other significant childhood trauma.
This is not to say all people with these specific disorders are necessarily abusive. That would be a gross over-generalization and an inaccurate statement to make. These conditions can all present in different ways within different people and have varying degrees of severity.
If you recognize these traits within a loved one or yourself, just know that anyone is capable of change. With awareness, desire, willpower, dedication, and the proper treatment, having healthy relationships is possible.

Saturday, June 27, 2020


People often don't want to believe the truth when it's inconvenient for them. 

I was raped in 2018. But that is not the sad tale I wish to tell today. There are bigger, more important topics to talk about.

I finally reported the case earlier this year, in April. There are many reasons a survivor of sexual assault waits to report or chooses not to. For starters, how recalling the details of the experience causes them to relive the trauma. Or, the fact that it can take one years to even realize the trauma happened, as you are prone to being in a state of shock after it does. But the aftermath of coming forward & being "victim blamed" or "slut shamed" is another reason why many keep their stories to themselves. And though I didn't think I could report the incident at first, due to my own naïveté, I also was fearful that the police would blame me as I have heard them do to many before.

I went to Planned Parenthood to get tested & they asked me if I had a history of sexual assault. I told them, & they encouraged me to report it if I was interested. They said they would help me with the process, & they did, which I was grateful for.

We called the police department together, I recounted the details over the phone, but they requested that I come to the station in person. This terrified me. And the representatives at Planned Parenthood knew it was understandably so.

I, a Mixed Race, disabled woman of color, going to the police station, all by myself, on foot, by public transit, with no one to escort me, in the middle of a pandemic?

It didn't feel safe or right at all. But I was also scared to even show my face at a police station.

Why? Had I done anything wrong? Had I committed a crime?

No. I'm a law abiding citizen. I have a reputation to uphold, my education, & career as a therapist at stake. I wouldn't risk losing all that I have worked so hard to earn.

But I know how the police treat people of color, and I was afraid.

After letting them know that I did not feel comfortable coming in person, they offered to come to my apartment. I was still uneasy, but this made me feel a little less anxious.

I left Planned Parenthood and caught the bus home. When I arrived, I called the police department to let them know I made it back.

About an hour later, two officers of color, a female of Latina descent and an Asian male, came to my place of residence. They were both short in stature. Immediately, I felt a flush of relief.

They were very kind and listened to me intently as I reported the incident. They were respectful and compassionate, took all of my info, and were on their way.

But if they were both male or Caucasian, I would have not been as comfortable sharing it.

You're probably thinking, "Why were you so scared of the police? Did you think they were going to hurt you?"


Even if they weren't making any physical contact with me, they could have easily caused emotional harm by insinuating that I was to blame for the sexual assault that took place. They could have accused me of asking for it. This happens all of the time.

But I have other reasons to fear the police.

If you're reading this now, or in the future, you've already heard of why protests are currently going on around the world. And you, like everyone else, should be outraged by the many Black & Brown lives that have been lost to police brutality. So I will spare you those details.

But this type of racism and brutality is too close to home for me, as it is for many Americans of color.

Before I was even born, my father was beaten by police officers for kissing my biological mother in his car. They took him out of his vehicle and kicked him while he was down, simply because he was a Black man kissing a White woman.

Years later, long after I was born, the police were often called on my home of origin. My Italian family was loud, argumentative, & volatile. They frequently disturbed the peace. The neighbors would get upset, with reason, and call the cops.

But did they take me away? Did they protect me?


You see, my egg donor (code name for my biological mother for anyone who's new here) was a "Karen" long before that meme came around.

She knew how to use the police to instill fear in my father and I if we weren't behaving how she wanted us to. To get her way, she could easily call the police and make it look like my father or I were at fault for a lie she would concoct, when in reality, her and her family were the true threats to our safety.

Instead of seeing all of the trauma I had went through, the police would talk down to me like I was a juvenile delinquent. They would tell me I had no rights because I was just a minor. They would act like I was a bad kid who had to completely submit to my mother's authority, rather than see that report after report was being made about my family yelling and shouting at the top of their lungs multiple times per month.

I was reminded of this when I watched the recent docuseries on Netflix about the tragic case of Gabriel Fernandez. When the sheriffs were called to respond to all of the abuse, neglect, and torture he went through, they would listen to whatever lies his mother would cough up and then bring him outside to scold him and tell him that he needed to stop making it all up, or he would go to jail for being dishonest.

I'm incredibly fortunate that my childhood was nowhere near as horrific as the one that Gabriel endured before he was murdered, but I have so much empathy for him, because the police would talk down to me the same exact way.

It wasn't until I was 15 years old that I practically begged police officers to make a report to the Department of Children & Family Services that they finally did. And I went to hell and back having to retell my story to a new social worker every couple of weeks, over and over again, because they didn't believe me. They always gave my egg donor the benefit of the doubt, and I truly believe it's because I was a child of color with a father who wasn't able to be there for me.

I literally had to record my family screaming profanity at me on an old, deactivated cell phone in order for them to believe me and eventually place me into foster care.

If you've read some of my blog posts before or know me closely, I've spoken about this in depth.

But this is the reality I'm trying to wake everyone up to. This is how the system is failing. Corruption, racism, hatred, and intolerance are all ingrained into its very fabric. It repeatedly ridicules, beats, and kills those who need its help the most while pardoning the true offenders.

I was just watching Trevor Noah's segment on Rashard Brooks. He discussed how the innocent man was inebriated and sleeping in his car. He spoke about how he was polite and respectful towards the police before they killed him. He said what he thought they should have done, though it may be wishful thinking for an imperfect world, was offer to take him home. With all of the darkness that's shrouding the world in this moment, they could have shown us a glimmer of light by offering to drive him home.

But they didn't.

And though I agree with Trevor Noah, that's what a "good" officer would have done, I don't know if I would have taken that ride.

I would have been too scared to get in the car.

And if I, a Mixed Race, light skinned, disabled woman of color with college degrees, am too scared to be alone with police officers, .  .  . how do you think other people of color feel? 

  Thanks for Reading. 


Sunday, May 31, 2020

"A Space for You"

This poem was written in remembrance of all the innocent Black lives lost, & in solidarity with the movements that continue the battle for systemic change.

"A Space for You"

I see your anger & frustration,
all of the agony you've been through;
Lay it down here,
let me make a space for you.

For all of the pain,
all of the hurt,
all of the injustice,
that you don't deserve.

All of the hatred & prejudice,
all of the fear,
all of the struggles,
all of the tears.

I see your anger & frustration,
all of the oppression you've been through;
Lay it down here,
let me make a space for you.

All of the trials,
the senseless violence,
all of the fighting,
to prove your innocence.

All of the outrage,
all of the unrest;
Lay it here,
get it all off your chest.

All of the fury,
and all the dread;
Say it out loud,
get it out of your head.

Let me support you,
because I understand;
Equity & compassion
are such a simple demand.

I stand with you,
You are seen & heard.
I value you.
Please believe every word.

I see your anger & frustration,
all the misery you've been through;
Lay it down here,
let me make a space for you.

Your madness is valid,
the masses seethe.
Let me make a space for you;
a space for you to breathe.


(Artwork by Starskyline1987)