Category Archives: General Information

9 Ways Many Narcissists Behave Like Cult Leaders

How to recognize narcissists’ manipulative and cult-like tactics.

Psychology Today/March 17, 2021

By Dan Neuharth Ph.D., MFT

Key Points:

  • Individuals high in narcissism, like cult leaders, often inflate their own sense of importance and behave in ways that are destructive to others.
  • Similarities between narcissists and cult leaders include a tendency to lie and turn others against each other for their own ends, along with little tolerance for dissent.
  • To escape the negative influence of a narcissist, be mindful of what you share with them and set firm boundaries about how you will and won’t be treated.

The strategies many narcissists instinctively use to get their way in personal relationships can be strikingly similar to the coercive tactics used by destructive cult leaders to indoctrinate and control followers.

If you have a spouse, family member, friend, or boss who is narcissistic, ask yourself whether any of the following nine characteristics of destructive cults and cult leaders sound familiar.

1. Cult leaders act larger than life.

They claim to be innately good, possessing special wisdom, answerable to no one, with no one above them.

2. Cult members are expected to subjugate their own needs for the “good” of the leader or cause.

Members are told that what the cult wants them to do is for their own good, even if it is self-destructive.

3. An “us versus them” attitude prevails.

Outsiders are viewed as dangerous or as potential enemies. This turns members’ focus outward, distracting from problems within the cult. Viewing others as enemies can be used to justify extreme actions because of the “dangers” that outsiders pose.

4. Feelings are devalued, minimized, or manipulated.

Shame, guilt, coercion, and fear appeals keep members in line. Members are taught to discount their own intuition and healthy instincts in favor of the leader or cult’s teachings. Over time, members can lose touch with their healthy habits and innate values.

5. Questioning and dissent are not tolerated.

Having doubts about the leader or cult is considered shameful or sinful. Members are told that doubting or dissenting indicates that there is something wrong or bad with the member.

6. The ends justify the means.

The “rightness” of the leader and cult justifies behavior that violates most people’s standards for ethics and honesty. In the zealotry of the cult, anything goes.

7. Closeness to the cult and leader is rewarded, while independence is punished.

Temporary ostracism is used to punish behavior that doesn’t conform to group rules. Members fear being estranged from the group and losing the promised protection and benefits offered by the leader and group.

8. Lies are repeated so often they seem true.

The cult leader cannot be wrong and never needs to apologize.

9. Communication is coercive or deceptive.

Things are not always what they seem. This fosters confusion, leaving members vulnerable. When confused, members seek solace in the aura of certainty the leader seems to possess.

If you notice similarities between such cult-like techniques and your relationship with a narcissistic person, keep in mind:

  • Cults and narcissists use powerful forms of manipulation, but there is nothing magical about what they do. Understanding their methods can allow you to avoid being taken in.
  • If someone is narcissistic, be mindful of sharing personal information with that person, as it may be used against you.
  • In any adult relationship, you have the right to confront, prevent, or remove yourself from manipulation or coercive control at any time. You do not need to give a reason, and you do not need the other person’s permission.
  • In any adult relationship, you have the right to ask questions, make your own decisions, and honor your values and goals.
  • Nobody has the right to tell you what to think or how to feel.

A Glossary of Narcissistic Slang Terms

A basic guide to gaslighting, love bombing, hoovering, and flying monkeys.

Psychology Today/September 2, 2019

By Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D.

When I first entered the online conversation about narcissistic personality disorder, I discovered that a number of slang terms were being used to describe narcissistic behaviors that I had never encountered in academic writing. Eventually, I deciphered their meanings.

Some of these terms are actually quite clever and capture important aspects of the experience of loving someone with narcissistic personality disorder—such as gaslighting, hoovering, and flying monkeys. However, many of these terms are being misused in much the same way that uninformed people casually label people as narcissists without any real understanding of what mental health professionals mean by that diagnosis.

So, in the interests of clarity, I have started to assemble a glossary in which I define the most frequently encountered narcissistic slang terms in ways that are consistent with both my professional knowledge of narcissistic personality disorder and also with how these terms are currently being used in blogs and online articles by non-mental health professionals. I also try, where possible, to provide the source for these terms because knowing the original context often clarifies the meaning.

Note: In this article, I am using the terms “narcissist” and “narcissistic” as shorthand ways to describe someone who qualifies for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.

Gaslighting

Source: This term comes from a 1938 play called “Gaslight” and the two later 1940’s movie remakes of the play. The play and the movies are set during the late 19th century when gas lights were used for indoor lighting. The basic plot concerns a husband Gregory who is trying to convince his new wife Paula that she is going insane so he can have her committed and get her power of attorney.  Unbeknownst to Paula, Gregory is also covertly searching their house for the valuable jewels that he believes are hidden there.

Gregory is a master manipulator and he heartlessly does whatever he can to make Paula doubt herself.  He searches the attic causing the gas lights in the rest of the house to dim, but when Paula comments on the dimming lights, Gregory denies that it is happening and tells her that she is imagining things.  He takes things, like Paula’s brooch, and then tries to convince Paula that she is losing things and that her memory is not to be trusted. Similarly, when she says that she has heard footsteps the attic, instead of Gregory admitting that he has been up there, he claims that these, like the gaslights and the missing brooch, are all figments of Paula’s disordered imagination and proof that she is going crazy.

NPD Meaning: Narcissistic gaslighting occurs when people with narcissistic personality disorder refuse to admit that they are wrong or have done something bad to their mate. Even when they are caught in the act, they will often try to convince the other person that he or she is paranoid and is imagining the whole thing.

Example—Betty and the Texts

Betty has long suspected that her husband Dan might be having an affair, but she had no real proof. He had started staying late at work and a few times had come home drunk with his clothing rumpled. One day when Dan was in the shower, she glanced at his phone and saw a series of sexy text messages from some woman.

Betty confronted Dan with the texts and asked him point-blank who this woman was and told him about her suspicions that he is having an affair.  Instead of telling his wife the truth, Dan gaslights her and says: “You must be crazy. Why are you so paranoid all of a sudden? I have no idea who that woman is who texted me. She must have the wrong number.”

Dan refuses to admit that he is seeing another woman and keeps telling Betty that she is paranoid.  He continues denying everything even when Betty tells him that two of her friends saw him out to dinner with a sexy blond in a short red dress. This is a classic example of narcissistic gaslighting.

Flying Monkeys

Source: This term comes from the children’s book The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum and the very popular 1939 movie based on it.  The movie starred Judy Garland as Dorothy, the young heroine of the story. Dorothy and her little dog Toto are swept up by a tornado in Kansas and end up in the magical land of Oz. Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East killing her. Her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, blames Dorothy for her sister’s death and seeks revenge. The Wicked Witch has a very scary troop of flying monkeys who do her bidding. She sends them after Dorothy.

NPD Meaning: Flying monkeys are the slang term for any group of people that the narcissist enlists as allies to persecute someone that the narcissist hates.  To gain their support, the narcissist makes up lies that portray the other person as evil and the narcissist as the real victim.

Example—Jon and the Lies

Jon’s wife Lisa has the exhibitionist form of narcissistic personality disorder. She is a very dramatic person and loves to be the center of attention.  When she is angry with Jon, she makes up stories about how he secretly abuses her. She then calls all their friends to complain about the alleged abuse. Lisa cries on the phone and is very convincing.  Many of the people she speaks with believe her. They reason: “ Who really knows what goes on behind closed doors in a marriage?”

Jon has no idea what Lisa is saying about him behind his back until he runs into some of their mutual friends and they are barely civil to him. The rumors get worse, stoked by exaggerated stories about Jon’s supposed nasty temper. Lisa’s group of flying monkeys now feel entitled to insult Jon whenever they see him. Jon tries to defend himself, but Lisa’s flying monkeys discount everything he says. He finds himself increasingly isolated as the rumors spread and he is portrayed as an abusive husband.

Going “Gray Rock”

Source: The term gray rock appears to have been first used by a blogger Skyler in her article “The Gray Rock Method of Dealing with Psychopaths.”  Unfortunately, Skyler misuses the term psychopath to describe anyone that she sees as dramatic, unpleasant, attention-seeking, and malevolent.  She includes narcissists in this group.

NPD Meaning: If you are involved with a narcissist whom you cannot avoid, many people advise going gray rock.  This means that your manner during your interactions with the narcissist is as boring, unemotional, and neutral as you can manage.  Essentially, you become as uninteresting as a gray rock.

Example: Anna and her Abusive Ex Richard

Anna divorced her narcissistic husband Richard after he started to verbally and physically abuse her.  If it were just her, she might not have left, because she idealized Richard and they had a passionate and very satisfying sex life.  But after their son Jake was born, Anna watched him with the baby and became afraid that one day Richard would lose his temper and hurt Jake. Richard was awarded some visitation rights as part of the divorce agreement.

Every time Richard came to pick up Jake, he tried to start a fight with Anna.  He hated the idea that he could no longer control her. Getting her upset and making her cry felt like good revenge, and he knew exactly what to say to provoke her.

Anna turned to her best friend Christine for advice.  Christine had gone through something similar in her divorce.  Christine said that Anna was giving Richard too much satisfaction by reacting to his jibes and attempts to upset her.  She needed to go gray rock.  From now on, whenever she was in Richard’s presence, she should say as little as possible, ignore his insults, and be neutral, unemotional, and boring.  She would literally bore him into leaving her alone.

Love Bombing

Source: According to Wikipedia.org, the term love bombing was coined by members of Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church of the United States in the 1970s.  New members of the group were showered with displays of warmth and attention.  The church members say that love bombing was intended to be an expression of genuine friendship and concern.  Critics of the practice saw it as a form of psychological manipulation used by cults in order to solidify the new member’s devotion to the group.

NPD Meaning: The term love bombing is now used to describe narcissists’ over-the-top courtship tactics when they are chasing someone that they are trying to seduce or make fall in love with them. It is wildly romantic behavior that includes constant praise, promises of undying love, thoughtful little gifts, late-night texts, and anything and everything that the narcissist thinks will secure the love of the person he or she has chosen.  This intense positive attention is often accompanied by pressure for a quick commitment.  Unfortunately, once the narcissist actually secures the person’s love, the love-bombing generally stops and is eventually replaced by devaluation or indifference.

Example—Patrick and Chad

Patrick, an exhibitionist narcissist, met Chad at a friend’s party. He invited Chad to join him for brunch the next day.  Chad turned him down with some vague excuse that made it obvious that he was not really interested in pursuing a relationship with Patrick.

Instead of giving up, Patrick started love-bombing Chad.  He started sending Chad little late-night texts saying how much he had enjoyed Chad’s company at the party and how special Chad was. When Chad sent him a brief polite text back, Patrick redoubled his efforts. His texts became increasingly flirty and sexual.  He also started forwarding Chad emails about topics that he thought would interest him. Finally, after a couple of weeks of texting, Chad agreed to meet Patrick for a drink.

Over drinks, Patrick showered Chad with attention and asked to be given a chance to prove that they would make a great couple.  Chad was not won over and decided to avoid Patrick in the future.  When Patrick realized that Chad was backing off, he increased his love bombing.

He knew Chad loved the theater, but that his budget did not allow him to go very often.  Patrick splurged and bought great seats to a show that he knew Chad wanted to see.  Patrick then called Chad and said: “I know you are not really interested in me, but we both love the theater and I was just given two great tickets to that show you mentioned.  How about if we just go as friends?  No expectations.” (Notice the lies).

This continued.  Patrick showered Chad with praise and presents and made lots of promises about their future together: “I can’t wait to take you to the beach house I rent every summer.  I know you will love it there.”

Eventually, Chad weakened and started spending more and more time with Patrick.  Chad reasoned, “Maybe I should really give this relationship a chance.  Nobody has ever treated me this well or wanted me this much.” Unfortunately, once Patrick realized that he had hooked Chad, he started to lose interest in him.  For Patrick, love was about the chase, not the person.

Hoovering

Source: The term hoovering is derived from the name of the Hoover vacuum cleaner.  In Ireland and the UK, “to hoover” became synonymous with using a vacuum cleaner to suck up dirt.

NPD Meaning:  The term hoovering has now been extended to refer to a narcissist’s attempts to suck a discarded mate back into a relationship by saying and doing things that the ex would find irresistible.

Example: William and Betty

When narcissistic William first met Betty, he saw her as the special woman that he had been looking for his entire adult life.  Betty was beautiful, educated, and from a higher social class than William.  When their relationship started, he treated her like a queen.  William moved fast, asked Betty to give up her job, marry him, and move with him to another state where she knew no one.

After they had lived together for a while, William got bored and lost interest in Betty.  There was no more talk of marriage.  William started devaluing her and picking fights.  After one particularly vicious fight in which he blamed Betty’s supposed selfishness for the death of their relationship, William packed his things, moved out, and left Betty heartbroken in a strange town with a new expensive apartment that she could not afford to keep.

Betty was stunned, deeply depressed, and had no idea what had happened to their once wonderful relationship. She cried on and off for a year, tried to contact William to get closure, but he never answered her texts, phone calls or emails.  Eventually, Betty asked her family for help and went into therapy.

A year goes by.

All of a sudden Betty gets a sweet text on her birthday from William, “Thinking of you.  Hope you are having a lovely day.”  Betty is stunned to hear from him but decides that her best course of action is to ignore him completely.

William is determined to hoover Betty back into a relationship with him.  In addition to sending her cute flirty texts every day, he has a beautiful bouquet of her favorite flowers delivered to her house. When Betty still refuses to speak to him, William’s next move is a classic hoover technique:  he sends her a letter apologizing for all he has put her through.

I love you madly. I know you must hate me.  I deserve every bad thing that you think about me.  I was crazy to treat you the way I did.  I realize now that I made the biggest mistake of my life when I let you go. (Notice how he just re-characterized his running out on her as “letting her go”).  You are the only woman that I have ever loved.  Please give me one more chance to prove that I have changed.  I will do anything you ask to prove how much I love you.  You won’t regret it. I promise.

Narcissistic Supplies

Source: According to Wikipedia.org, the term narcissistic supply is a concept that was introduced in 1938 by the psychoanalyst Otto Fenichel to describe the various ways that we use other people to prop up our self-esteem.

NPD Meaning: The term narcissistic supplies, or supply for short, describes anything and anyone that narcissists use to regulate their self-esteem.  The purpose of narcissistic supplies is to enhance the narcissist’s sense of being special.

Example: Edward the Philanthropist

Edward is what I call a “pro-social” exhibitionist narcissist. Edward is extremely wealthy and chooses to use his wealth to support his public image as someone who cares deeply about other people.  This is particularly ironic because Edward totally lacks emotional empathy. There is a huge difference between the face Edward shows the public and how he behaves towards those close to him. He is known for publicly humiliating anyone he dislikes.  At home, he is a tyrant and his wife and children fear him, as do the people who work for him.

Edward’s main source of narcissistic supplies is to give millions of dollars to high profile charitable causes that display his name and face.  He endowed a pediatric wing of a local hospital that is now named after him and he also supports a local library.  His favorite charity is public television.  He loves knowing that every time someone watches one of the television shows that he sponsors, his name and face are  prominently displayed on the screen in recognition of the money that he has given the show.

Narcissistic Word Salad

Source: The term word salad or its more formal name schizophasia refers to a form of disorganized and unintelligible speech that is characteristic of some forms of severe mental illness. Seemingly random phrases or words are linked together.  The term word salad is often associated with the psychotic disorder called schizophrenia.

NPD Meaning: The term narcissistic word salad is essentially a misuse of an important psychological term.  Instead of referring to an involuntary verbal sign of a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, it is being used as a slang term for a type of narcissistic speech that is purposefully confusing.  Listeners find narcissistic word salad extremely frustrating because the narcissist is using circular reasoning, outright lies, denial, or mischaracterizations of past events to avoid being wrong or having to take responsibility for something.

The Narcissistic Family System—The Golden Child & The Scapegoat
In families led by a powerful parent with a narcissistic personality disorder, the children in the family are sometimes assigned specific roles and are treated quite differently from each other. This is because people with narcissistic personality disorder lack whole object relations and cannot see their children realistically as having a blend of both good and bad traits. One child may become the recipient of the narcissistic parent’s all-good projections and is seen as perfect, while one or more of the other children may be seen as all-bad. In some families, these roles are reassigned according to whomever is the parent’s favorite that day.  This sometimes fosters competition among the children to please the parent and be seen as the good one.

The Golden Child: This is the term for the narcissistic parent’s favorite child. This child is idealized as perfect and special. The parent projects all the positive qualities of this golden child and brags about his or her wonderful accomplishments to anyone who will listen.

The Scapegoat: This child is the object of all the narcissistic parent’s negative projections. He or she is devalued and treated as an insignificant loser who is blamed for everything that goes wrong, including things that are clearly other people’s fault.

Example—Perry the Scapegoat

In Perry’s family, his brother David is the anointed golden child, while he is the perpetual scapegoat. When David hurt his hand while maliciously breaking one of Perry’s favorite toys, their narcissistic mother blamed Perry. “See what you did! It is your fault that your brother hurt his hand. What did you do to him?”

Punchline: A number of slang terms—gaslighting, golden child, flying monkeys, and so on—have been coined to describe people, coping mechanisms, and situations that relate to narcissistic personality disorder. Some of these terms have caught on and are now being used as catchy shorthand ways to describe narcissistic issues. However, many of the people using these terms are not very clear about what they actually mean.  In order to bring some clarity to the situation, I am suggesting that we start defining these terms, provide clear examples of what we mean by them, and not make the mistake of throwing them around with careless abandon.

Victims’ rights toughened by Domestic Violence Act

Law Society Gazette, Ireland/February 26, 2019

The Domestic Violence Act 2018 was commenced in January. It amends and consolidates the law on domestic violence and is one of the most significant family law statutes introduced in the past 20 years.

Great credit is due to members of the Law Society’s Child and Family Law Committee who, for the past 20 years, have been advocating for reform of the domestic violence laws.

In particular, Joan O’Mahony, Noeline Blackwell and Cormac Ó Culáin, due to their submissions and work on this act, have made an immense contribution to this legislation.

More prescriptive

In determining applications under this act, the court must have regard to all the factors or circumstances that it considers may have a bearing on the application, including, where relevant, a non-exhaustive list of 17 factors or circumstances, which are set out in section 5(2) of the act.

The court must give reasons for its decision to grant or refuse an application or, if applicable, give reasons for its decision to make the specified order subject to exceptions or conditions, and to vary any exceptions or conditions (section 17).

Where the court forms the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to make the appropriate order, the language of the act states that the court ‘shall’ make the appropriate order, whereas, in the 1996 act, the court ‘may’ make the order.

The Courts Service is now obliged to provide each applicant with information on, and contact details for, support services for victims of domestic violence (section 28).

In (criminal) proceedings relating to a breach of an order under the act, the judge ‘shall’ exclude from the court during those proceedings all persons, except officers of the court, persons directly concerned with those proceedings, bona fide representatives of the press, and such other persons (if any) as the judge may in his or her discretion permit to remain (section 34).

In the same proceedings, a new offence in relation to publication of information about the parties to enable their identification is created by section 36 of the act, and the penalties are set out in section 37.

Emergency barring orders

The court can make an emergency barring order to direct a respondent to either leave a place or to prevent them from entering a place where the applicant or a dependant resides.

The granting of an emergency barring order may prohibit the respondent using or threatening the use of violence against, molesting or putting in fear, attending at, or in the vicinity of, or watching or besetting a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides, and following or communicating (including electronically) with the applicant or a dependent person.

A person may apply for an emergency barring order where:

a)   The applicant is not the spouse or civil partner of the respondent and has lived in an intimate and committed relationship with the respondent prior to the application (note: no mandatory minimum period of residence is required), or

b)  The applicant is the parent of an adult respondent, and

c)   The applicant has no legal or beneficial interest in the dwelling, or an interest that is less than the legal and beneficial interest of the respondent, and

d)  There are reasonable grounds to believe that there is an immediate risk of significant harm to the applicant or a dependant.

An emergency barring order may be made ex parte and will remain in force for a period not exceeding eight working days (whether ex parte or on notice).

Where an emergency barring order has been made against a respondent, no further emergency barring order shall be made against the respondent on application by, or on behalf of, the same applicant unless a period of at least one month has elapsed since the expiration of the last day of the period specified in the first-mentioned order, unless the court is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances that justify the making of a further order.

Changes to orders

Safety orders – the requirement for a couple to be living together in an intimate relationship has been removed (and, consequently, a protection order). Now, under the 2018 act, the parties simply have to have been in an intimate relationship at the time of the application, with no reference to living together – section 6(1)(a)(iii).

Barring orders – the requirement for a couple to have been living together six out of the previous nine months in an intimate relationship has been removed as one of the prerequisites to an application for a barring order (and, consequently, an interim barring order).

Now the parties must have simply lived together in an intimate relationship prior to the application, with no reference to a minimum time period – section 7(1)(c).

There is now additional relief prohibiting following or communicating with the applicant or dependant. In addition to the usual reliefs granted for barring, safety, interim barring, and protection orders (and the new emergency barring order), the court can now, as part of these orders, prohibit the respondent from “following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or the dependent person”.

Any information sworn as part of an application for an interim barring order must now state whether the property from which it is sought to bar the respondent on an interim basis is also a place of business of the respondent, or includes or abuts a place of business of the respondent.

The formalities in relation to providing a note of evidence, and the information or affidavit sworn in ex parte applications for interim barring orders, now apply in an equivalent manner as applicable to ex parte applications for protection orders – section 10(9).

Voice of the child

The court may seek the views of children where a safety or barring order is sought on behalf of a child. The court may appoint an expert to assist it in ascertaining the views of the child (section 27).

Special sitting of the District Court

A member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of sergeant may request the Courts Service to arrange (a) a special sitting of the District Court to facilitate the making and determination of an application for an interim barring order, an emergency barring order, or a protection order, and (b) an application for a safety order or a barring order where necessary to facilitate the making of interim barring orders, emergency barring orders, or protection orders (see section 24).

Coercive control

Section 39 defines the new criminal offence of coercive control as knowingly and persistently engaging in behaviour that is controlling or coercive, that has a serious effect on a spouse or a person who is, or was, in an intimate relationship with the alleged offender, and that a reasonable person would consider likely to have a serious effect on a relevant person.

The penalty on summary conviction is a Class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both, while the maximum tariff on conviction on indictment is a fine or imprisonment for up to five years, or both.

Other changes

  • An offence of forced marriage (section 38).
  • A protection against cross-examination conducted in person by the applicant or respondent of the other party or a dependant (section 16).
  • The court can direct that an order be served personally by a member of An Garda Síochána (section 18).
  • Applicants for domestic violence orders and those alleging breach of orders may give evidence by live television link, both in civil cases and in criminal cases, for breaches of orders with the leave of the court. Those under 18 may give evidence in this manner unless the court sees good reason to the contrary (section 25).
  • The applicant can be accompanied to court by a person of his or her choosing to provide support during a civil hearing (section 26).
  • The court can recommend, when making an order under the act, that the respondent engage with services, such as programmes aimed at perpetrators of domestic violence, addiction or counselling services. The court may also consider, when hearing the application in question, the engagement of the respondent with any such programme or service, and may also consider the applicant’s view of the effect of such engagement on the respondent (section 29).
  • Where a violent or sexual offence is committed by a person against his or her spouse, civil partner or person with whom he or she is in an intimate relationship, that fact shall be an aggravating factor at sentencing (section 40).
  • Marriage exemptions permitting those under 18 to marry have been repealed (section 45(1)).
  • Transitional and continuation arrangements have been put in place to ensure a smooth transition.

The changes in the act will, first of all, strengthen the rights for victims of domestic violence and will, secondly, assist in enabling Ireland to ratify the Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention).

‘It’s like being in a cult for one’: Read 14 tactics used by coercive controllers

East Anglican Daily Times/March 7, 2017
By Gemma Mitchell

Experts in the field of domestic abuse gathered in Suffolk to explore the intricacies of a crime that is “invisible in plain sight”.
A sold-out audience filled the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds on Monday, March 6 for the third Conference on Coercive Control, with presentations from a line-up of celebrated professionals.

Keynote speaker was American university lecturer and author Lisa Aronson Fontes, who described a manipulative relationship as “like being in a cult of one”.

Dr Fontes said dangerous romances often started out happy, with abusers using methods that seem loving, such as constant texting or not wanting to be around anyone else.

She added: “It looks like the care that many women crave, then over time that warm beam gets narrower and narrower and she wants to get that back and she feels like it’s her fault she doesn’t have it.
“Her life is then spent looking for ways of getting into that light again.”

One form of abuse that survivors often feel unable to talk about, Dr Fontes said, is sexual coercion, violence and degradation. This includes revenge porn, sex on demand and forced prostitution.

“Coercive control feels like being trapped in a cage and you can’t get out and you don’t know where to turn,” Dr Fontes added.

Professor Evan Stark, a forensic social worker and lecturer, praised the criminalisation of coercive control – calling it a “revolutionary moment in our women’s movement”.
According to Mr Stark, around 25% of women in abuse relationships are never assaulted, and in some cases it is “low level” harm which police may not take seriously, such as biting, pushing and shoving.

This is where the new law, which was passed in England and Wales in 2015, can come into play.

It carries a maximum prison term of five years for perpetrators who repeatedly subject spouses, partners and other family members to serious psychological, social, financial and emotional torment.

Mr Stark deems coercive control a “liberty crime” that turns victims into “slaves in their own homes”.

He added: “When you smell the suppression of freedom the stench of injustice reeks through society like a great wind.”

Dr Jane Monckton-Smith, an expert in domestic homicide and stalking, told the conference abusers often used coercive control because they were experiencing “separation anxiety” – a fear of losing someone.

She said: “They do not want to be separated from this person that they control because that person is absolutely fundamental to the way they feel about their life.”

It is this trait that can lead to a domestic murder, Dr Monckton-Smith said.

She added: “Some killers say to me once they kill someone it’s like a relief, they don’t have to worry about owning her anymore because she’s gone.”

Organiser Min Grob said she was “ecstatic” about how well received the Conference on Coercive Control had been since she launched it last year.

She added: “What I wanted to do is have coercive control pitched at a level that anyone can get more knowledge or understanding, from frontline workers, professionals and people in relationships or those who know someone who is being coercively controlled.

“It is a day of learning because coercive control is invisible in plain sight and even if you don’t realise it we all know someone in our family that could be being coercively controlled.”

Ms Grob, who has experienced domestic abuse in the past, said putting on an event like this made her feel “safer”.
Here are 14 ways coercive control can exist in an intimate relationship:

– Controlling access to a phone and social media

– Enforcing a certain diet

– Prohibiting or limiting contact with friends, family and health services

– Monitoring and controlling a person’s time or movement

– Regulating what clothes, make up, hairstyle is worn

– Continual belittlement, telling someone they are worthless

– Harming or threatening children

– Jealous accusations

– Constant phone calls, texting and emails

– Controlling access to money and transport

– Forcing sex

– Name calling

– Refusing contraception

– Preventing a person from working and sleeping

Seeing the warning signs of a toxic relationships

In the flush of a budding romance, a person may dismiss or minimize the telltale signs that warn of future relationship problems.

That person may minimize or dismiss bad behavior because “he’s so good-looking” or “she doesn’t act like that all the time.” Or, worse, they blame themselves for their partner’s destructive actions.

Don’t ignore these signs if you’re serious about finding that special someone, experts say. In the end, when you’re asking why it all went wrong, it’s usually those “red flags” that were your first indication to move on.

Some signs of domestic problems are obvious — blatant infidelity or physical violence — but others are more subtle, said Maren Richards, crisis intervention coordinator for the Community Violence Intervention Center in Grand Forks.

“Name-calling, verbal put-downs, humiliation or making a person feel like they’re worthless or crazy” are common tactics of an abuser, she said.

Another prevalent attitude that the man should be in control weaves through the cases of many victims of domestic abuse.

“We see a lot of abusers using their ‘male privilege,’ that belief system that says males are dominant and should take charge,” Richards said. “They treat their partner like a servant — to care for the children, do the housework — and say, ‘I’ll make all the big decisions.’ ”

Some people are content “to go with the flow,” she said. But sometimes, if their opinions are never heard, they just give up.

Warning signs

Here are some signs that can help you determine if you are, or someone you know is, in a toxic relationship:

1. You’re always walking on eggshells.

One of the first signs of a toxic relationship is when one partner is always controlling, but that doesn’t always mean physically threatening or violent. It can simply be that you feel frightened to share your opinions — you’re constantly walking on eggshells because you’re afraid of your partner’s emotional reactions, experts say.

It’s also about emotional safety. Partners should be able to express themselves without fear of what’s going to happen when they do.

2. Your partner tries to control you.

Control and emotional manipulation are hallmarks of domestic abuse.

The abuser uses guilt to shift blame for poor behavior, Richards said. “They’ll say, for example, ‘If you wouldn’t have made me mad, I wouldn’t have done it.’ And the person will believe it and think, ‘Yes, I really did make him mad. I guess it was my fault.’

“It’s an ugly cycle, and the further you get into it, the harder it is to see what’s happening,” she said. “I hate to use the word ‘brainwashing,’ but it changes the way they view themselves and the way they think.”

3. Your partner punches a wall or throws objects during a fight.

Not only are these unhealthy ways of regulating emotions, but they could escalate to actions that really do cause harm. This kind of behavior is meant to intimidate another person.

“Even a look — like the one moms give their kids in a grocery store — that says, ‘Get in line’ ” can be an attempt to intimidate, Richards said.

Physical actions — such as grabbing someone’s arm and saying, “Get back here, I’m not done talking to you” — can be early indications of abuse. But that may not happen early in a dating relationship.

“If someone hit you in the face the second time you go out with them, it’s easy to walk away,” Richards said. And the abuser knows it.

“Generally, there’s kind of that buildup. It may start with a push. It rarely immediately escalates to a higher level.”

4. You’re being isolated from family and friends.

The abuser may take steps to control who you spend time with, as part of a subtle effort to manipulate you, Richards said. “They control who you see so they become the sole influence (in your life), and it’s harder for you to leave.”

They also use finances as a way to control their partner, she said. “(For example) they may keep you from working.

“One of the largest barriers to leaving is being financially dependent. It may feel overwhelming — the person may not see how they can make it on their own, especially if children are involved.”

5. You’ve been lied to.

“Honesty is an important facet of healthy relationships,” Richards said. “If someone has lied to you, you’ll want to figure out what this person’s intentions are.”

Was it to engage in some behavior they knew you wouldn’t be on board with or supportive of? If so, that might be a strategy they’ll continue to use.

“Little white lies,” especially when used to protect someone or spare their feelings, are probably not a sign of abuse, Richards said. “But if they’re lying about what they’re doing, who they were with, or where they were, that’s an indicator that something unhealthy is happening.”

6. Your family and friends tell you something’s wrong.

You may not realize you’re in a toxic relationship until things get really bad, especially if things have slowly gotten worse, or it’s gone on for so long it seems normal, experts say.

It’s important for family members to identify a domestic abuse issue, Richards said. “You could say something like, ‘I’m concerned about you; I think (the relationship) may be unsafe.’ But you have to be careful not to be too pushy because you may push them to further isolation. It’s about finding that fine line.

“You can make the offer, show concern, and let them make the decision about what to do,” she said. “It’s a tough thing to support someone who’s in this situation. It’s kind of like addiction in that the person has to be ready to make that big step.”

Help is available “if you’re not sure about your relationship,” Richards said. “You can come in (to CVIC) to talk.

“We see a lot of people come in and say, ‘I’m not sure I should be here,’ but they usually are in the right place. They don’t recognize how bad it might be, but we do, because we work with this every day.

“It’s hard to come to terms with (the fact that) someone you love would do that to you.”

In the Name of Love: Abusive Controlling Relationships (DVD)

How do individuals get involved with cults in the first place, and what steps can be taken to “deprogram” and heal those who have been drawn into these damaging groups? These questions and more are addressed in Cults Inside Out, written by a leading cult expert Rick Alan Ross. Over the course of three decades, Ross has participated in around five hundred cult interventions, provided expert court testimony, and performed cult-related work all around the world. With the help of current and former cult members, Ross demonstrates many of the tactics the groups use for control and manipulation-and, more importantly, some of the most effective methods he and other experts have used to reverse that programming. As a result, readers will find themselves armed with a greater understanding of the nature of destructive cults and an improved ability to assess and deal with similar situations-either in their own lives or the lives of friends and family members.Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out
In the Name of Love: Abusive and Controlling Relationships 

One third of American women report that at some time in their lives they were involved in abusive controlling and often violent relationships. Entertainer Tina Turner and Nicole Brown Simpson were just two well-known examples. Why don’t the victims of abusive partners leave? What draws them into and holds them much like prisoners within destructive and potentially unsafe relationships?

In the Name of Love: Abusive and Controlling Relationships

Cults: An Educational Volume 

A review of the cult problem and its history; a detailed explanation of cult “brainwashing” techniques; the warning signs of cult involvement; most frequently asked questions about cults and cult involvement; coping strategies when dealing with cult members; and bringing people out of cults through planned interventions

Cults: An Educational Volume

Take the Narcissistic Personality Inventory

USA Today/March 16, 2009

Authors Drew Pinsky and S. Mark Young, a professor of entertainment business at the University of Southern California have studied celebrities and the general population by administering a widely used screening tool called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), which is included in The Mirror Effect.

The book advises answering the 40 questions below in a single sitting, without asking for help or clarification. It notes, “There’s no such thing as a good or bad result on this test. Scoring high on the narcissism inventory, or high on any of the component categories, doesn’t mean you have a disorder, or that you’re a good or bad person.”

Print this out or track your choices of which statements best match you – then test your friends, family, that guy at the office – anyone who’s narcissism score you want to know.

1. A. I have a natural talent for influencing people.
B. I am not good at influencing people.

2. A. Modesty doesn’t become me.
B. I am essentially a modest person.

3. A. I would do almost anything on a dare.
B. I tend to be a fairly cautious person.

4. A. When people compliment me I sometimes get embarrassed.
B. I know that I am good because everybody keeps telling me so.

5. A. The thought of ruling the world frightens the hell out of me.
B. If I ruled the world it would be a better place.

6. A. I can usually talk my way out of anything.
B. I try to accept the consequences of my behavior.

7. A. I prefer to blend in with the crowd.
B. I like to be the center of attention.

8. A. I will be a success.
B. I am not too concerned about success.

9. A. I am no better or worse than most people.
B. I think I am a special person.

10. A. I am not sure if I would make a good leader.
B. I see myself as a good leader.

11. A. I am assertive.
B. I wish I were more assertive.

12. A. I like to have authority over other people.
B. I don’t mind following orders.

13. A. I find it easy to manipulate people.
B. I don’t like it when I find myself manipulating people.

14. A. I insist upon getting the respect that is due me.
B. I usually get the respect that I deserve.

15. A. I don’t particularly like to show off my body.
B. I like to show off my body.

16. A. I can read people like a book.
B. People are sometimes hard to understand.

17. A. If I feel competent I am willing to take responsibility for making decisions.
B. I like to take responsibility for making decisions.

18. A. I just want to be reasonably happy.
B. I want to amount to something in the eyes of the world.

19. A. My body is nothing special.
B. I like to look at my body.

20. A. I try not to be a show off.
B. I will usually show off if I get the chance.

21. A. I always know what I am doing.
B. Sometimes I am not sure of what I am doing.

22. A. I sometimes depend on people to get things done.
B. I rarely depend on anyone else to get things done.

23. A. Sometimes I tell good stories.
B. Everybody likes to hear my stories.

24. A. I expect a great deal from other people.
B. I like to do things for other people.

25. A. I will never be satisfied until I get all that I deserve.
B. I take my satisfactions as they come.

26. A. Compliments embarrass me.
B. I like to be complimented.

27. A. I have a strong will to power.
B. Power for its own sake doesn’t interest me.

28. A. I don’t care about new fads and fashions.
B. I like to start new fads and fashions.

29. A. I like to look at myself in the mirror.
B. I am not particularly interested in looking at myself in the mirror.

30. A. I really like to be the center of attention.
B. It makes me uncomfortable to be the center of attention.

31. A. I can live my life in any way I want to.
B. People can’t always live their lives in terms of what they want.

32. A. Being an authority doesn’t mean that much to me.
B. People always seem to recognize my authority.

33. A. I would prefer to be a leader.
B. It makes little difference to me whether I am a leader or not.

34. A. I am going to be a great person.
B. I hope I am going to be successful.

35. A. People sometimes believe what I tell them.
B. I can make anybody believe anything I want them to.

36. A. I am a born leader.
B. Leadership is a quality that takes a long time to develop.

37. A. I wish somebody would someday write my biography.
B. I don’t like people to pry into my life for any reason.

38. A. I get upset when people don’t notice how I look when I go out in public.
B. I don’t mind blending into the crowd when I go out in public.

39. A. I am more capable than other people.
B. There is a lot that I can learn from other people.

40. A. I am much like everybody else.
B. I am an extraordinary person.

SCORING KEY:

Assign one point for each response that matches the key.
1, 2 and 3: A
4, 5: B
6: A
7: B
8: A
9, 10: B
11, 12, 13, 14: A
15: B
16: A
17, 18, 19, 20: B
21: A
22, 23: B
24, 25: A
26: B
27: A
28: B
29, 30, 31: A
32: B
33, 34: A
35. B
36, 37, 38, 39: A
40: B

The average score for the general population is 15.3. The average score for celebrities is 17.8. Pinsky says he scored 16.

Young says it is important to consider which traits are dominant. For example, an overall score that reflects more points on vanity, entitlement, exhibitionism and exploitiveness is more cause for concern than someone who scores high on authority, self-sufficiency and superiority, he says.

The seven component traits by question:

    • Authority: 1, 8, 10, 11, 12, 32, 33, 36
    • Self-sufficiency: 17, 21, 22, 31, 34, 39
    • Superiority: 4, 9, 26, 37, 40
    • Exhibitionism: 2, 3, 7, 20, 28, 30, 38
    • Exploitativeness: 6, 13, 16, 23, 35
    • Vanity: 15, 19, 29
  • Entitlement: 5, 14, 18, 24, 25, 27

Reasons why abuse victims return often complex, experts say

The Salem News, Massachusetts/April 10, 2008

Peabody – Jania Pacheco returned to her Oak Street apartment late last fall just as her neighbor Jessica Herrera was leaving, bags in hand.

Herrera was shaking. Her right eye was blood red, Pacheco said, and the area surrounding it was bruised from just below her eyebrow down to her nose.

“It was literally like charcoal black, purple, blue,” she said. “We knew, evidently, that it was him (Herrera’s live-in boyfriend).”

They had a brief exchange. Herrera hugged Pacheco and thanked her. The 25-year-old mother of two told Pacheco she needed to go.

“I said, ‘You need to do what’s best for you,'” Pacheco recalled telling her neighbor. “You need to run for your life.”

She hoped her neighbor would leave for good, but that wouldn’t be the case.

“She kept coming back for something,” Pacheco said. “It didn’t seem like love.”

Herrera’s body was found Sunday in the closet of the 7 Oak St. apartment she shared with the boyfriend, Ashley Fernandes. Police charged him with strangling her. Fernandes pleaded not guilty in Peabody District Court on Monday morning and is being held without bail.

“We were just shocked, really shocked, but not surprised,” Pacheco said.

She’d made occasional phone calls to police when arguments from Herrera’s apartment were too loud to ignore, she said.

Now, she’s asking herself why her neighbor of nearly four years stayed after enduring so much abuse. It’s a question that rarely has a simple answer, say those who work with victims of domestic violence.

Peabody police Sgt. Sheila McDaid, who heads the department’s Domestic Violence Unit, said she could not speak about Herrera’s case. But she said complex issues like past relationships and the nuances of the current one factor into leaving.

“Again, there’s all the underlying circumstances we may not even know about,” she said. “I don’t believe anybody who’s been battered likes the battering.”

Fear is an overriding part of the decision making. Sometimes a victim has to devise an escape plan, McDaid said.

“Domestic violence is a crime,” she said. “It’s a unique crime because it’s committed by someone who allegedly loves you or someone you love. It’s not black and white.”

Candace Waldron, executive director of Help for Abused Women and their Children, agreed with McDaid that the reasons for staying are often complex and multifold.

“I think that’s one of the most frequently asked questions,” she said. “There’s a lot of reasons.”

Perpetrators don’t always batter and can be charming and affectionate at times, or they shift blame on the victim. And victims find a host of reasons to stay: for their children, fear of loneliness, loss of the connection.

“They may believe that the abuser will stop or the perpetrator will change because they love them,” Waldron said.

Keep in touch

As neighbors, Pacheco and Herrera chatted regularly, Pacheco said. They became pregnant around the same time, and eventually their children played together.

When Herrera returned to 7 Oak St. after the incident in late fall, she shied away from Pacheco, only waving a hello from time to time, Pacheco said.

“I think she was ashamed that she came back,” Pacheco said. “She was a totally different person and didn’t talk to us as much as she did before. It was like someone else had come back.”

It’s a symptom Waldron has witnessed all too often. The HAWC executive director said victims start to isolate themselves whether it’s out of the shame for staying or their willingness to appease the perpetrator.

Once isolated, a victim has few outlets to share feelings or experiences.

“That becomes almost like a brainwashing environment,” Waldron said. “If you don’t have a lifeline to the outside, it’s very hard to see that there’s any hope for you.”

She encouraged friends and family to keep in touch with a victim. It often means being rebuffed multiple times, but it lets a victim know whom she can rely on when she finally leaves for good.

“Staying connected is like throwing a lifeline,” Waldron said. “Stay connected, as hard as it can be.”

McDaid wanted to flip around the questioning toward the abuser rather than point fingers at the victim.

“Why did he do this? Why do people batter? Why don’t we as a society look at the perpetrator?” the police sergeant asked. “Society tends to look at the victim and say why don’t they do this. Sometimes it’s not that easy.”

Taking stock of syndrome

The Star/August 27, 2003
By Gael Branchereau

Relationships can develop in hostage situations whereby victims fall for their captors due to a condition called the Stockholm Syndrome with some continuing their relationship even though the victims’ lives are no longer at risk.

Thirty years ago last week armed robbers burst into a Stockholm bank and began a six-day siege that saw four hostages become emotionally attached to their captors, a phenomenon that has since come to be known as the Stockholm Syndrome.

The term was defined by an American psychiatrist, Frank Ochberg, who researched the Aug 23, 1973 robbery at Kreditbanken in which a romantic relationship developed between one of the captors and a hostage.

“The party has just begun!” yelled 32-year-old robber Jan-Erik Olsson as he entered the bank mid-morning and fired off a round from his sub-machine gun.

He took four bank employees hostage, demanded three million kronor, weapons, and an escape car.

Most importantly, he demanded that Clark Olofsson, a heavy-duty criminal serving time in prison, be released and brought to the bank, a request which was met.

The siege ended after six days when police gassed the bank and the robbers gave up.

To the surprise of many, some of the hostages, including 23-year-old Kristin Enmark, physically protected the robbers as they left the bank, to ensure police wouldn’t fire on them.

Ochberg, an expert who worked with the FBI, was serving on a task force on terrorism and disorder set up by the US Attorney General’s office after 11 Israeli athletes were executed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

As part of his research, he decided in 1976 to delve into the events surrounding the Stockholm bank robbery to explain how the hostages could develop warm, compassionate feelings for their violent, armed captors.

“The remarkable behaviour of hostage Kristin, her affection for her captor, his reciprocal affection for her and her anger at the authorities became the basis for my definition of the syndrome,” Ochberg told AFP by telephone.

“The syndrome begins with shocking and sudden capture, terror and infantilisation (where) you cannot eat, talk, move or use a toilet without permission,” he explained.

“But then somebody gives you permission to talk and eat and move, and live,” he said.

The gift of life “results in primitive, primordial gratitude” which is the foundation for all future feelings of love, he said, recalling the semen traces found on the floor of the bank vault.

“To try to have a mutual understanding in that kind of situation is not so strange, it’s a method of survival,” Enmark once said.

But Ochberg begs to differ, insisting that “it is not a reflex for life” but rather “a sense of gratitude.”

In fact in some cases, as with Enmark and her captor, victims and hostage-takers continue their relationship even though the victim’s life is no longer at risk.

Despite many rumours to the contrary, Enmark did not marry her captor though they did remain friends.

In the most famous case of the Stockholm Syndrome, Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of publishing baron William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped by the leftist Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974 and robbed a San Francisco bank together with her captors, brainwashed into denouncing her capitalist roots.

She was sentenced to seven years in prison for armed robbery, but had her sentence commuted by then US President Jimmy Carter.

William Sargant, a British expert in mind control who interviewed Hearst before her trial, concluded that a person whose nervous system is under constant pressure can display “paradoxical cerebral activity”, that is, bad becomes good and good becomes bad.

In the late 1970s, Ochberg sought to promote the Stockholm Syndrome to help save lives in hostage-taking situations, and convinced the FBI to apply his theories and spread them abroad.

They were put to use in 1977 when Moluccan separatists held a school and train hostage in the Netherlands.

“We wanted the captor to take the pulse of a sick hostage, in order to establish a ‘touching relationship’,” he said, stressing that the captor’s reciprocal attachment to the hostage is key to developing a relationship.

That attempt failed however when a doctor among the passengers volunteered.

Two hostages and six terrorists were killed in a final offensive after a 19-day siege.

According to Ochberg, the Syndrome can also be diagnosed among women who suffer from spousal abuse and journalists who cover conflicts.

‘Wildest Dreams’ do come true

Oprah, Tina bask in kinship during tour and interview.

USA Today/May 15, 1997

By Edna Gundersen

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey is stalking Tina Turner as the Acid Queen continues her Wildest Dreams tour around the USA. After cheering at the May 1 opener, Winfrey stayed in Houston to air a live segment fulfilling a few of the wildest dreams women expressed in 80,000 letters. Now she’s trailing the tour to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, where Thursday night Turner performs the third of five concerts at the Greek Theater. Turner will appear on Winfrey’s show Friday. USA TODAY reporter Edna Gundersen caught up with the two stars during a break from the tour.

Houston — Publicists, managers and hangers-on bustle in the hallway as two of the nation’s most powerful and charismatic self-made women huddle behind closed doors.

“Girlfriend, check out these shoes!”

Oprah Winfrey, crouched on the floor of Tina Turner’s dressing room at Woodlands Pavilion, is marveling at a long row of identical black spike heels. Turner, in snug cream leather pants and loafers, erupts in giggles and sinks into a sofa to nibble on celery.

“I am her biggest groupie,” confesses Winfrey, sporting a shaggy Tina-like wig that Turner suggests needs major styling. “This is my first Tina concert ever. Somebody has to hold me back!” The talk show queen is stalking the Acid Queen for both cheap thrills and a noble purpose. Tina’s appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show Feb. 21 inspired a series of shows honoring accomplished women. After cheering at the May 1 opener of Turner’s “Wildest Dreams” tour, Winfrey, 43, stayed in Houston to air a live segment fulfilling a few of the wildest dreams women expressed in 80,000 letters. She trailed the tour to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, where Thursday night Turner, 57, performs the third of five concerts at the Greek Theater. She’ll appear on Winfrey’s show Friday.

“It’s exactly the way I imagined it,” Winfrey says after she and her TV crew observe backstage prep. “Chaos, fun. If you didn’t love this work, you would be tired all the time.”

She could be talking about either job. The pair’s electric personalities and unstoppable drive only hint at deeper parallels. Both are Southerners who overcame poverty, abuse, racism, sexism and dispiriting career slumps.

Born in Nutbush, Tenn., Turner rose to fame while enduring abuse from her husband, Ike. After walking out in 1976 with only a handful of change, she turned to housekeeping and food stamps before her honeyed rasp caught the ear of manager Roger Davies. In 1984, Private Dancer returned her to stardom. Today, Turner’s song-and-dance workouts still fill arenas. The leggy Hanes mascot, Buddhist and mother of four sons lives in Switzerland and France with German record exec Erwin Bach, 40.

Winfrey, raised in rural Mississippi and a Milwaukee ghetto, was Miss Black Tennessee and a news anchor in Baltimore before building a TV empire in Chicago. On her top-rated weekday show (up to 20 million viewers a day), she has shared her weight battles and disclosed that she was raped by a cousin at age 9. The workaholic squeezes philanthropy, writing and acting into an annual schedule of 200 shows.

Q: How did this power merger come about?

Oprah: It was an infectious, spontaneous moment. I passed a monitor as Tina was rehearsing and was just taken aback by her aura and energy.

Q: Did your early struggles fuel a drive to achieve?

Oprah: I’m glad I was raised in Mississippi at a time when being colored and female meant (low) expectations. Now I’m grateful for my days of emptying slop jars, hauling water from the well and going to the outhouse and thinking I was going to fall in. It makes walking through the house with the many bathrooms and marble floors and great view that much better.

Tina: A friend told me, “If you never got truly wet you can’t appreciate being dry.” (Hardship) gave us strength and tenacity to break the rules and step into a new arena.

Q: Do either of you regret revealing so much publicly?

Oprah: No. I believe all pain is the same. So if Tina can overcome pain, it speaks to the possibility that all of us can. That’s the beauty of sharing.

Tina: For a while, I was ashamed to tell my story. Now people come up and say very softly and very quietly, “You’ve given me such a great inspiration.”

Q: People repeatedly ask why you didn’t leave sooner.

Tina: I was living in hell, and I wanted to get out, but you must build confidence and endurance so you don’t go back.

Oprah: When you look back, can you believe yourself? I was never in a relationship with anybody who hit me, but I remember a relationship in my 20s where he left and said he wasn’t coming back, and I was on the floor crying and begging and pleading. I thought, “I’m no different from a battered woman.” I kept a journal at the time, and not too long ago, (after) reading it, I sat in my closet and wept for the woman I used to be.

Q: How would you have advised Tina in her darkest days?

Oprah: I encourage women now to leave when he hits the first time. That’s when you have the most strength. Tina and I have similar stories, in that I was abused as a child because I didn’t know where the boundaries were. My need to please was so strong, and I had a fear of telling. Tina, when you left Ike, did you still fear he might come looking for you?

Tina: I knew he would, and he did. I prepared myself. When I saw him and his entourage, all his goons, he was so ugly. It was an ugly energy, like the Mafia. I had such strength then. I asked someone to get a gun for me, and I would have killed Ike if he had tried to force me back. I’m very happy I didn’t, but I had that much hate at that point. I was not going back. Later, I sat in his car, and we had a talk. The man was so scared, he kept fiddling with his hat. I was past him totally.

Q: Do painful experiences feed a reluctance to marry?

Tina: I don’t have a desire to marry. Erwin is wonderful. We are perfect just as we are. Why do I need to bring another element in for the sake of tradition? We are as married as we’d be if we had a ceremony. Besides, I want to keep my stuff mine and his stuff his. That’s the reality. I need that freedom.

Oprah: Ditto, absolutely. I really do feel that people want to see a wedding because they want to party and see the pictures. I have a wonderful relationship that works for me.

Tina: Is that your man I saw outside with your dogs? He’s very good-looking.

Oprah: Noooo. That guy is shmatteh compared to Stedman (Graham). You haven’t met him? Oh, you should see him. My guy is really great-looking.

Q: Does the culture’s obsession with age annoy you?

Tina: When you are in harmony, in sync, having a good time, nobody cares about age. I’m not paranoid about my age.

Oprah: Because she’s got those legs!

Tina: Age has nothing to do with my work. As long as I’ve got makeup, I’m not worried about face lifts, because there is too much risk that the surgeon might mess up.

Oprah: Oh listen, I’m just hoping 57 can do this for me. Look at her. She’s just the hottest! We have to go shopping.

Q: Are any of your wildest dreams unrealized?

Oprah: We have all the shoes. There is not another shoe left to buy in the world. You get more focused on the grandest vision for your life as a human being and how you share it.

Tina: My quest is an opening of that third eye over the planet. Once I get that, I plan to do what Oprah is doing, to let people know how they can control some of the suffering.