Victim or Volunteer – Part Two

 

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The devaluation. People often regard this as one complete stage that follows the glorious seduction of the golden period. It is in fact made up of two parts. First comes the stranger period. It is so called because to you it seems like you are dealing with somebody completely different to the person that you know and love. This is when the transition occurs between the seduction and the insidious abuse that is just around the corner. This stranger period should be regarded as the calm before the storm and if you are among the few who recognise it when it happens it is a clear signal to you to get out. Most do not of course recognise it. They perhaps see it as the relationship moving beyond the honeymoon period and since there is no horrible treatment per se, they do not realise that the stranger period (which is still a stark contrast to the golden period) is in actual fact a warning. The stranger period is at the beginning of the period of devaluation and is a clear marker that there are far worse times ahead.

You are unlikely to query this shift from golden period to the stranger period in any great detail. Should you have done so? Should you have paid greater attention to us (just as we always have demanded)? Should you have wondered why we did not answer your telephone call with the enthusiasm that we once did? Ought you to have questioned why we seemed less interested in doing things with you? Did you see it and put it down to us being tired? Maybe you just thought it was because we had had a rough day at work? You asked if we were okay and we assured you that we were, but there was no conviction in our responses. They were flat and other worldly but you did not press any further. Why not? Perhaps you should have done? Perhaps if you had done so you would have taken greater heed of what it was signifying or was it asking too much of you to realise that was coming? Nobody has any idea of what this stranger period signifies when they first encounter out so why would you be any different? Perhaps the view that you failed to heed this warning is a harsh one?

What then of the devaluation proper when the darkness descended and the abuse came? Of course it is the false default setting of our kind that everything is your fault. That is the way that we have been created. That is the way that we conduct ourselves in order to protect our fragility from criticism. We must project, blame-shift and remain unaccountable whilst ensuring that you are regarded as culpable, liable and blameworthy. It is part of the matrix of control that we deem necessary to apply against you. Yet, if one strips away this all to readily applied blame what then? Would the objective observer reach the conclusion of victim or volunteer? What do you think? Do not think that this is one of our standard exercises of attributing blame, I have already conceded that such blame-shifting is one of our key manipulations, but I am lifting that usual approach and posing the question as to whether during devaluation you might be regarded as a victim or volunteer?

The first time we doled out a silent treatment which lasted a day? Should you have known then what you were dealing with and distanced yourself? Is that unrealistic? What about when there was the second period of being frozen out? Or the third? Maybe not after those, after all, you dealt with them didn’t you? Perhaps you ought to have realised when we lost our temper with you? When those savage words and insults were shouted at you? That is emotional violence. That is abusive. Why did you not walk away then? You stayed. Could it then be argued you volunteered for more dressings down? How about when we began to gaslight you? We toyed with your reality, confusing and bewildering? Did you recognise what was going on? But you are clever, resourceful and independent, surely you knew what was happening? Besides, this was taking place alongside the shouting matches and the cold shoulders. Surely the alarm bells were ringing now weren’t they? Did you hear them and ignore them or did you just not hear them? What about the times we took your car without asking? Ate the food you had set aside? Stopped you sleeping properly by elbowing you all night? What about the repeated stopping out late and the flirtation with other women? Surely you noticed all of that, in fact we know you did, because we made sure you did so to enable us to get our precious fuel. So, you experienced all of this and you still stayed. Does that make you a volunteer as the abuse continued?

What about the first time we shoved you back during an argument? No? How about the second time when that shove sent you into a wall and you banged your head? No? Surely when that first slap stung your cheek, then you must have realised what was happening and yet you stayed after that. Does that make you no longer a victim but a volunteer instead? Of course nobody ever asks to be treated that way. You are not volunteers in that sense but given you realised that certain behaviours towards you were wrong, unpleasant and downright nasty, you obviously spotted them so why did you remain and allow yourself to be subjected to even more? You are your own person, surely, you should have realised and walked away? You might refer to not being able to because of money, housing, accommodation and children. Perhaps they are considerations but when pitted against your own safety and sanity, which should be protected first?

Accordingly, reflecting on all that happened to you, the repeated manipulative and abusive behaviours which were never isolated examples but rather repeated and increasing violations against you, could it be said that you were a victim or did you in fact volunteer by remaining in the firing line? I would welcome your observations.

Putting aside my usual blaming behaviours I would offer you this conclusion. To volunteer is to be able to exercise a degree of decision-making and control over your own person. You were never allowed that control. We took it.

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43 thoughts on “Victim or Volunteer – Part Two”

  1. If the Narc has conditioned us to begin with (and always does), wouldn’t we really be ‘in’volunteers?

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      1. I honestly have felt to be both the victim and an ‘involunteer’ at different times during our dance. When I first realized who he is and what he does, I felt like a victim. I was angry and hurt from the emotional abuse and machinations. Because I researched and realized, I wanted to ‘help’ him understand who and what he is (I know, no use and exactly what he wanted). I believe at that point is when I became an involunteer. Strange enough, he’s never admitted or denied his NPD.

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  2. Thank you for the final paragraph. So many times have I blamed myself; knowing what he was doing was wrong, but certain that I could help him… after all… That’s what I do. I stayed because I loved him so much and felt that with enough love, he would change. He TOLD me he’d never had anyone believe in him so completely, which I of course believed. I never understood how I could stay with someone so mentally, physically and emotionally abusive. Why would I? Because he controlled me completely. I often called him the Puppet Master, little did I know how accurate that was.

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    1. Hello GC67. There are hundreds of reasons that we cause you to believe in order to have you remain bound to us and you list three of them in your own message in terms of the fact that you loved him, the fact you thought he would change and the fact that he made you believe you were special by reason of you believing in him like nobody else had. All methods which are used by our kind. Yes, the final paragraph sums up how it is.

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    2. We stay because we feel and believe we love them through the trauma and addiction bonding and the desire to make the relationship work, at the peril of our own selves and self worth.

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  3. HG I personally take full responsibility for it . I was not physically abused but I was mentally and emotionally abused. However I think now looking back on it knowing that he’s a N. I think it was reigned in from him. I was very good at controlling my emotions around him. So was probably pretty useless fuel supply. Every time he would withdraw I would question it and get exasperated and end it. Then we would get back together over and over again . I seen all the signs , even if he wasn’t a N he was a terrible boyfriend. I think this is why it’s been so hard for me , you do blame yourself for being such a door mat. I knew nothing about narcissim, I thought I was dealing with a commitment phobic who was scared of getting hurt again. But I seen all the crazy behaviour. I was not aware of cheating but was triangulated by holidays and threats to move abroad . There must have been cheating as well. I didn’t know I was an empath or a co dependant and still don’t know if I am. I am now obsessed with understanding as much about this as possible because I’m terrified I could meet another one. BUT I was a victim when I met him but very quickly became a volunteer. That’s the scary part. It’s not the power of the N . It’s what’s lacking in the volunteer that makes it continue .

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    1. Thank you Lisa, an interesting observation on the whole dynamic and also how you consider yourself to have been a volunteer. I wonder if that view will alter as you read more and increase your understanding?

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      1. I sure hope Lisa’s view will alter as she reads more. It is most certainly not a case of what was “lacking” in ME. Lisa, Stockholm’s syndrome is not a case of what is lacking in the captive person. Your emotional and mental state are effectively sabotaged by a narcissist. You enter into a cognitive dissonance (trying to match up what you have always held as truth and reality with what is happening to you currently, and trying to hold fast to your sense of “human-ness” by trying to find it in the narcissist). The icing on the abuse cake, in my situation, was when during our last argument (after my escapes, and his final brutal discard) was a “Well… why did you stay, then?!” in response to my rant about the horrible rollercoaster twists and turns in the past two years. How dare that POS try to convince me that I was just as much to blame for the hell that I lived in for so long. What started to come out of my mouth was “You made me believe that you would change”, “You made me believe you were sorry”, “You made me think that I mattered to you and we could fix this”, “You made me forgive you and give you a chance to do better”, etc. But I shortened all of that to “YOU MADE ME”. That is not a what a volunteer says.

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    2. I didn’t know I was co dependent until finding out what he was either, Lisa. knew I was HSP and empathic, I knew I was a pleaser and enabler.
      I don’t like the word victim, I feel like I was mislead and duped and deceived by someone I trusted and genuinely loved. But, I remained with him despite his questionable behaviour. I could have left him, I didn’t want to at the time. I believe I was targeted for his own purposes based on who and how I am.
      I would call myself more a participant as I wasn’t aware it was a game we were playing until the end.

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      1. Hi Miss_Stress, I’ve only just come to realise since this break up. It’s been 2 months of no contact. I’m still in shock to be honest . Some days I still think , no it can’t be true !!! I’m not saying I wasn’t a victim , I absolutely was. But I chose to stick around for too long . I had no clue what he was. Don’t know what I will do if he comes back. But I don’t think he will.

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  4. I have been with my N for 25 years. He has me so brain washed I do not know what normal is anymore. I don’t even know who I am anymore. I left him 6 months ago, but he still has complete control over me. He stalks me, begs me to come home, says he needs me and can’t live without me. I always end up feeling sorry for him and spend time with him when he says how sorry he is. I am always using the “but” word! I thought Ns would move on and find another “host” to fed off of. But he is obsessed with me or the idea of me and he has never cheated on me.

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      1. He is to religious. This is the one thing he holds to as to why I can not divorce him. Reminds me all the time! Although he is convinced that I must be, because I moved out. That has to be it right, why else would I leave? Of course it’s never his fault. He tells me I’m sick and need professional help. I am also to religious to cheat on him and I wouldn’t be able to any way, he is always checking on me and has people watching me. He is always texting and calling me and giving me a play by play of his day, and expects the same in return.

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  5. I know I’m a volunteer. I see every stupid thing he does with the fairy dust, the distractions, the faux promises, when he lays the foreshadowing of the next physical abusive “reason” . The projections the protray of all horrific incidents as a routine little fight that all couples have. The stranger. And the fuel. I do t feel like a victim at all – I know I do nothing to provoke him. His perception of reality is so convoluted -I don’t fall for any of it. I don’t believe a Word he says but I can’t stop wanting. The amount of tendrils wrapped around me are countless. I literally tell him I know it’s going to happen again and when it does im going to leave until I can see straight, hear his voice( since I tune him out when he is so ugly) and have a sense of grounding. But I know I will always come back. To feel every emotion is so passionate. I’m addicted. bc I have been victimized by example my whole life it feels so natural to deal with the most outlandish temper tantrums.

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  6. No one volunteers for abuse. Many, if not most of us, were conditioned from early childhood to doubt our instincts and trust untrustworthy people. Yes, we are ultimately responsible for our choices as adults but that does not mean we wanted or desired or volunteered for abuse. Many of us didn’t know what emotional abuse was when we first got involved with the N who exploited our earliest wounding but we learned post escape or toward the end of the relationship. This is why education and counseling is so important and helpful but neither of those totally work unless the I dividual can see what is truly happening. A lack of self love is a dangerous weapon to use against others as well as toward oneself. On the other hand, self love makes a person impervious to internalizing the messages presented by an abuser. I will never accept victimization as being volunteered.

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    1. Precisely, Bethany, he was aware of my past , my relationship, my childhood, my self esteem and self love issues. I armed him well. I truly believed this man was different, and he was. Just not In the way I had hoped.

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  7. I know when it happened the 1st time.. that night i came to our home alone. I was not able to cry, i was shocked and couldnt react or assess properly.
    I was paralysed. I couldnt realise it was happening with me. I was not able to move (physically).
    I slept in another room. I woke up with 1 single thought: either u leave him right now. OR it will happen again.
    =》 i knew it will happen. But i didnt leave.
    Was not able.

    What happened?
    We went out with his friends. I expected we go to a place with a beautiful view (he knew about it).
    Instead we went to a bar without windows.

    I hated the place. Once i became better and accepted the fact we stay there, i asked his friend how to pronounce his name correctly. My dress showed some parts of my body.
    He became jealous (the 1st time) and whispered in my ear: “get away from my flat right now”.
    I though he was shouting. But not. Just whispering. (And this is after being such a sweet and loving person during 2 months we lived together)

    I never had any similar jealous reaction from any of my previous men.

    When it happened i already loved him SO much that was not able to leave him.
    Next morning he tried to understand if i feel guilty for speaking “this way” with his friend.
    I was not.
    Now i know why he was annoyed with the fact i really didnt feel any guilt…
    Coz he needed it to use as a reference each time we argued (yes after that case we started arguing.. about his phone’s messages)
    But i didnt feel guilty, so was useless for him.

    Funny thing: in some months i read his messages with other girls on dating app… which occured exactly in that month..
    He was asking random girls “what would u feel if ur bf sleeps with his ex gf”…
    It means he REALLY DOES NOT KNOW! how it feels…

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  8. I went in as a volunteer. The aggressor even. I thought he was my standard target: alcoholic/addict with some selfish/cocky traits, simple enough to manipulate sexually, emotionally. Nothing, and I mean nothing prepared me-the professional codependent-for a narc who chewed me up and spit my out while I lay on the ground staring at my phone desperate for my next hoover. There’s no choice anymore. I’m an addict waiting for my fix.

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    1. So was I, I foolishly opened up to him (to try and explain myself) that my biggest insecurity is that I like to feel clean at all times, and that when he comes over unannounced and tries having sex with me when I had not had a shower or prepared myself, it made me feel uncomfortable and not enjoy the sex. This then, of course, became his new game for me. He did it when I begged him not to for half an hour and then told me I was disgusting and dirty, as well as being disrespectful to real rape victims by lying and that he would go down to the police station and tell them I was falsely accusing him,and drag my whole families name into it “so I better be prepared”.
      I (Stupidly) verbally recognised this as a greater narcissists bluff, and he moved on to an immediate smear campaign. I had abusive text messages from colleagues about how much of a freak show I am within 5 minutes.

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  9. I certainly wasn’t a volunteer . Controlled /humiliated/ emotionally . physically & sexually abused for many years , why would I do that to myself .. FEAR .. that’s why.

    I was too scared for my physical welfare & the repercussions if I ended it . For many many years I said he would have to leave under his own terms & eventually he did . Though I didn’t know it at the time it was a blessing in disguise!! Whohhooh . Seventeen months NC .. Feels AMAZING .. !!

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    1. Agreed So Sad, my ex MN assaulted me and from All accounts planned to discard me, to a permanent degree of death.. But I fouled that. This man all the while touting love for me until weeks prior a change in His personality occurred. It happened quickly. I did feel like, a target and a victim with him.
      With my last N, whom I knew though friends, he used devaluation of silences mostly and verbal ire in last part of relationship. He always told me he loved me, complimented me, never made me feel less of who I am, always building me up. While behind my back, lying and cheating to gather fuel.
      I felt more a participant as based in his deceptively disclosed mental health issues as reasons for silences. I feel more a broken trust and bond with him. He mirrored me in totality. He was by definition my other half.
      There was no saddness or mourning of the the other and there has been with the last. Why his Hoover worked.

      So Sad, I pray you never hear from this man ever again, that you be erased from. His memory bank.

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      1. Hello Miss S ,

        You were very lucky to escape though straight into another sadly.. I understand that’s quite common.
        Apparently Narcs can see the tell tale signs which make us good targets .

        Thank you for your very kind words I appreciate it very much x
        I don’t think narcs ever ever erase us in fact after my 17 months No Contact HG reliably informs me that I’m being triangulated at the moment with his new supply .. following some recent activity brought to my attention by a very close friend , it appears I may be back on his radar but mentally I am so much stronger to allow it to concern me too much ..
        I very much hope your recovering & safe Miss S . It’s nice to hear from you as always xx

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      2. Yes, the first appeared after the break of my first marriage, then The other other after that MN? Hence why no dating for me any time soon.
        The second knew all about my past relationships, he had so much ammunition to use on me, but he loved me, as he claimed.
        I think that is it So Sad, our emotional state I how we can repel hoovers and remain no contact. There was a break I. My emotional pattern when he hoovered me, I did feel weak and I faltered,
        In your new found strength you are solid. This triangulation though meant to distress you, will not break your will. That has to effect him negatively, I should think. Or hope.
        I am lucky that he cannot physically Hoover me at this time.i imagine such tactics are much more emotionally damaging them phone calls, social media email etc.
        Be well my dear and I always enjoy your posts and insights.

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  10. Your last paragraph . It is altruistic, or something like that. Compassion in one comment and altruism in another post.

    I ignored so many flags. Wondering if heeding them would hsve changed things. No matter.

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  11. I also agree with the statement. No voluntering but neither a vicitm. A relationship that becomes abusive to that degree is sick and I mean sick in the scientifical way, there is no volunteering and victimizing in sickness. Its just a disfunctional development until somebody decides to go for the cure, which is either a separation or a therapy etc.
    nobody can blame themselves for being sick, because it comed from the childhood conditioning.
    I have an ex-gf who stays in the most destructive and disfunctional relationshio and they both know it because there have been all kind of mental and family authorities visiting that house, and they even hate each other but none of the two leaves. They suffer alot with each other and physically you can see how he is fading away every day more because she is more abusive than him, but he does not leave.. He stays for more abuse., she too..
    I now see it not the case of being a voluntary neither but being beyond healing..
    Excellent HG! Thanks for the fact that we can read such good writing on this subject whicj makes a big part of our lives 😘😘❤️

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    1. One of my colleagues and very good friends, who happens to be a psychologist, often says “these people are more sick than we are ever well”.

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  12. I have never felt that I was a victim or a volunteer. I’m not sure I would find it conducive to my understanding of what happened to me or to my recovery to think in those terms. For me both terms suggest blame, if I am a victim then the blame is with the narc and I am absolved and if I am a volunteer it is the opposite. I do not believe apportioning blame helps matters. What I realise from my experiences and reading your blog HG is that I have an over developed sense of responsibility and this led me to stay even when my health and sanity were at serious risk. My initial encounter with a narc was with one of the Victim cadre and I sensed huge vulnerability in him. In many ways he was like a helpless child and at the time I could no more turn my back on him than I could abandon a baby. It took social care placing my son on the at risk register at the age of two months to wake me up. A month later after an incident where he unleashed his rage in front of my parents while my baby son slept in his crib nearby I finally found the courage to go no contact. I have never heard from him since, now nearly sixteen years. I now realise that the gaping emotional chasm within the narc pulls at me with the gravitational force of a black hole. I can physically feel it latching on to my energy. Finally, now I know what I feel and why, I am able to distance myself. I will continue to be neither a victim nor a volunteer.

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  13. Hahha stop projecting dear defective person.
    Narcs r able to make white black and black white..

    So familiar..
    Ate it tooooo much!

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  14. Two things happened to finally give me the strength to leave. The first was that I learned that these abusers are incurable. The second was when I stopped being just his victim and began blaming myself for letting him treat me as he did. I forgave myself & drove to the courthouse 🙂

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