In the previous post, I discussed a few tactics that abusers use for manipulation and control. One of those tactics is called hoovering, which is when an abuser senses their victim distancing themselves from the relationship, they will shower the victim with gifts, compliments, trips, and other means to suck the victim back in.



A Little Background…

My abuser was an ace at surprises. He took any opportunity to flip a normal situation into a grand event. He used “surprising” me as a manipulative tactic to hoover me back in and to accomplish personal goals. He was also great at financial manipulation (which I will discuss further in a later post). He had combined our finances under his name. I was forced to use a card with his name on it for everything. This made it difficult for me to do anything for myself without punishment. Meanwhile, he was spending our money on events, concerts, Patagonia gear, leather boots (which he had over eight pairs of) haircuts, expensive watches, technology, etc.


A Breaking Point

After years of staying home with the kids to support my abuser and his endeavors, my soul was dissolving. I had to make myself solid again. I had always been a singer and a musician, so I decided to pick up guitar lessons which led to songwriting, songwriters’ nights, and starting a band. I finally had something of my own; Something he couldn’t take from me.


We had a dirty, old side garage that was being used for storage and would be a perfect space to work on my music. I would need to make my own money if I wanted a chance at creating a music studio. I started gigging and getting cash back at grocery stores (God forbid I used our money for myself). I worked hard saving up for my space away from his abuse where I could write and sing and make my voice loud! It was a slow process; I would have to be discreet. I was afraid if he knew I had money he would take it, and he did.


A Quick Escape

My grandmother passed away and left me a check which she requested I use for travel, education, or the like. When I told my abuser of my plan to flip the side garage into my music studio, he rejected the idea. He told me we couldn’t afford it. I told him not to worry, and that I had been saving my gig money and had just received a check from my grandmother that I could put toward my space. He told me we couldn’t afford to put any more money into the house, and that he needed it for a corporate call for a brewery he was investing in.


I was furious but couldn’t dare show it. The next day I loaded up the car and drove ten hours with two kids under the age of four to Jacksonville to stay with my parents. I used the time away to ground myself. I came to terms with my financial situation and regarded it as a setback that I could overcome. I would figure out how to raise the rest of the money for my studio. My idea of what the studio could look like went from serene and sacred to basic. I convinced myself I didn’t need AC; I didn’t need much - just a rug and maybe a chair. I could use an extension cord to hook up my equipment.


Big Confusion

After a week of centering myself, I drove the ten hours back home with the kids. Tired and needing to pee, we arrived at the house with relief. *Side bar: If you’ve never driven alone for ten hours with two kids under the age of four, I would compare the stress level to the stress of disarming a nuclear bomb. As soon as the kids and I stepped inside, my abuser was in the corner with a wet vac, screaming, “help! help!” I plummeted into a frenzy, my stress level already through the roof. My youngest started screaming. What could possibly be so bad that he couldn’t welcome us, let us pee, and then we figure it out?


“Help!” he said, “it’s flooding!!!!” His voice drowned behind the wailing shop vac. I stood there confused trying to make out what he had said. “Go through this door, grab the towels in there!” he shouted. “What the hell are you talking about?” I thought, “What door? There is no door there.” I looked up, and sure enough behind him was a long black plastic bag covering a door-sized hole. I swashed the bag to the side expecting to see our old, shitty side garage, but it wasn’t a side garage anymore. It was a fully renovated and decorated music studio.

I fell to my knees. I screamed. I cried. My youngest was still crying, he had no idea what was happening. I was in my thirties and still didn’t know what was happening. My abuser was filming me. He thought I was falling to my knees with gratitude and thanks, but I was falling with defeat and shock.


I was distraught. I wanted to scream. I knew I was being filmed, so I had to act like I was the luckiest wife in the world (at this point I was an expert at this task). When he posted the video to Facebook in a true narcissistic “look how awesome I am” style, the comments were the worst part. “You’re so lucky!” and “Way to go!” There were hundreds of them, and no one knew the reality. For months, anytime I went anywhere, people would say, “How awesome is your studio! You’re so lucky! What a great husband you have!” I would smile and bear it.


The Truth

While I was in Jacksonville, my abuser spent $7,000 on my studio. He owned a house flipping business and pulled all the men off their normal jobs to get this gigantic renovation done for “me” in just five days. $7,000 was money he said we didn’t have five days prior when it was my idea. He took my money from my grandmother. I went to Florida to distance myself, and it scared him, so he hoovered me back in by making me a music studio. He was taking control of my project, my money, my autonomy. I felt violated. I was robbed of my opportunity to believe in myself and was left feeling defeated and little. Of course, I was grateful to finally have my space, and I took advantage of every minute I could spend in there, but the walls were dripping with my abuser, I couldn’t escape him even in “my own space”.


Hoovering and Help

Hoovering can be as small as a simple compliment or even bigger than a $7,000 renovation. It is a tactic used to confuse and manipulate the victim and gain control. If you feel like someone has been using a hoovering tactic on you, please reach out to someone, research, and as always, connect with the domestic violence hotline at: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) TTY: 1-800-787-3224 https://www.thehotline.org/

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Updated: Oct 1, 2021




There is a statistic I will never forget learning from my personality psyche professor. She said that it takes a person at LEAST seven tries to actually leave an abusive relationship, if ever.

I thought, “how can someone actually remain in an abusive relationship? Isn’t it obvious when you’re being abused? Why wouldn’t you just leave?”


I can now attest to that statistic, and I look back at my naivete with forgiveness. Leaving is not so black and white, and abusers have tactics that would qualify them to run the CIA.


How does abuse begin?


I come from a family of therapists, theologists, and philosophers and I graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor's in psychology. None of that kept me from becoming a victim of abuse. Abuse is slow and discreet and catered to the person being abused.


I met my abuser during a vulnerable period. Most abusers search for young, vulnerable prey - people they can groom and manipulate. I was young, out of college, out of a six-year relationship, and had never dealt with the death of my mother. He used this information to convince me that he was empathetic toward what I was going through. He was playing a role, and he was a damn good actor.


My abuser made me feel special, seen, and understood. I dated him for a mere three months before I became pregnant with my first child. I sometimes think that was his intention all along (and thank God because I wouldn’t trade any of it for my vibrant, beautiful child). I was stuck, scared, young, and vulnerable. I was isolated from my family, friends, and coworkers. He moved me to a new city that I had never visited before, and although I had already experienced moments of abuse, that was when the abuse escalated; I soon began to feel I needed him like I was unable and unfit to live on my own.


The abuse was subtle and calculated. During my pregnancy, he convinced me to come off my anxiety and depression medication, which made me unstable. I was a new mother with postpartum depression, he was rarely around to help me with the baby, he isolated me from anyone who knew or loved me, he had taken my money, and I was exhausted. I thought the way I was feeling was par for the course. I was afraid, stuck, and unable to consider any other option than to survive - one day at a time. As time went on, the abuse became more prevalent and intense, and I was slowly broken down into a shell of a person.


Why stay in an abusive relationship?


Abusers will use manipulative tactics to create and reinforce a trauma bond. A trauma bond is an attachment or dependency the victim has for their abuser, which becomes addictive for the victim. These tactics can also cause the victim to stay because they have fear of being harmed by the abuser, fear they are not smart enough to make money on their own, fear they will not be loved, among other factors.


What are some tactics abusers use to keep you in the relationship?


Abusers use many tactics to break down their victims which makes them feel like they are unable to leave. I will discuss a few of these tactics below. *Please note that there are other tactics than what is listed here, and I am not a licensed therapist or psychologist. I am offering this information after years of research in an attempt to understand what happened to me.


Love Bombing - Love bombing typically occurs at the beginning of a relationship. Think of love bombing as a shiny sparkling bait at the end of a rusty old hook, it is used to attract the victim. Love bombing is when the abuser makes the victim feel loved, beautiful, amazing and seen. They will take personal information and use it to their advantage to manipulate their victim into thinking they are being empathetic. They will shower their victim with compliments. They will wine and dine their victim. They will appear to be successful, loved, and, well, sane - a perfect catch.


Lying- Abusers tend to lie about everything and anything, which causes victims to be in a constant state of confusion. My abuser would create a lie, wouldn’t be able to keep up with it, and then tell me, “I never said that.” I would be left thinking I had lost my mind. He would call me a “dummy” in jest, but after a while, it turned into, “don’t say stupid things” and “don’t act like an idiot.” I began internalizing these comments and became fearful of saying anything at all (which is crazy as I have always been opinionated and outspoken). Little did I know he was gaslighting me.


Gaslighting - Gaslighting is a term that originated from a play by Patrick Hamilton called, “Gaslighting.” It causes a victim to question what is real and can make them think they are losing their minds(https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-10-14/heres-where-gaslighting-got-its-name).

My abuser would plant ideas in my head and convince me that something was my idea, which left me in a position of being unable to argue since it was “my idea” after all. Meanwhile, I would be left confused and unhappy that I had ended up in a situation that I thought I was adamant about not being in.


Hoovering- You can read more about hoovering here, but for now: when an abuser feels like you may be distancing yourself, they will use this tactic to suck you back into an abusive relationship. With hoovering, the abuser will shower you with gifts, compliments, or trips, causing you to reconsider your stance. I will never forget an instance of hoovering that happened to me during my relationship. I plan to share my experience in my next blog post.


If you think you’re being abused…


I never thought I would become a victim of abuse, but I was (and still am as we share children). If you think you may be a victim of abuse, you’re not alone. You can get help, and you can be happy again. Reach out to your family, friends. Find a therapist. Research your options, and as always, feel free to reach out to the domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) ; TTY: 1-800-787-3224 ; https://www.thehotline.org/ .


153 views

Updated: Sep 18, 2021



Who can be a victim of abuse?


Mothers, grandmothers, teachers, preachers, psychologists, therapists, social workers, accountants, presidents, secretaries, fathers, grandfathers, engineers, scientists, brothers, sisters, friends, even you.


Anyone is capable of being a victim - even those who have a total understanding of what abuse looks like.


Abusers are very smart at inconspicuously manipulating and controlling their victims. They isolate their victims from other people, leading them to lose their sense of "self" and become dependent on the abuser.


Abuse reported in 2019


In 2019, there were 622,695 calls and texts to the Domestic Violence Hotline. The highest type of abuse reported was emotional and verbal abuse, with sexual abuse being the lowest type of abuse reported. Emotional and verbal abuse ranked higher than physical abuse, financial abuse, digital abuse, and, as previously stated, sexual abuse. https://www.thehotline.org/wp-content/uploads/media/2020/09/Impact-Report-2019.pdf



Physical vs. Emotional Abuse


A common misconception is that abuse is physical; but emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse can have just as negative an impact as physical abuse, and can go undetected for longer.


Physical abuse tends to be more easily spotted by friends, family, and colleagues, while emotional abuse is a silent killer. Often, physical and emotional abuse go hand in hand. Sometimes, an abuser who does not physically harm another can get away with it for longer, leading to dire consequences for their victims, including suicide.


How does abuse happen? (In a nutshell)...


Abuse happens over time. Over time, the abuser will use many tactics, discreetly, to obtain control of their victim, and the victim is unaware of what is happening. Some tactics they may use include “love-bombing” and making them feel wonderful about themselves, spoiling them with gifts and trips, or mirroring their beliefs. Eventually, they slowly take away these tactics and replace them with negative reinforcement and harsh (often unwarranted) criticism. Abusers lack empathy and compassion, while victims tend to have a lot. When a victim is told something is wrong with them, they will work hard to correct that trait, only to be met with more criticism later. The cycle continues.


Subscribe to the newsletter to continue to learn more about abuse, how to spot it, and how to get help. Learning about what abuse looks like could save your life or someone else's.


If you feel like you, or someone you know, is being abused, there are options. Reach out to the Domestic Violence hotline at, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE); TTY: 1-800-787-3224 . https://www.thehotline.org/ . If you have thoughts of suicide reach out to 1-800-273-8255.


Love and Light,


Amanda








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