As recently as yesterday, I read another piece of news about how a foreign man came to Ukraine, tracked down the girl who left him and stabbed her 6 times. More and more news like this. And you can, of course, reproach the media for exaggerating a certain topic or fixing on one of the many types of crime. But as a psychologist, I notice that over the past six months, women have come to me for a consultation who, in one way or another, present their fear of a partner.
And this is not just a fear of losing financial well-being in the event of a divorce, or property, or children. This is such a basic fear – I would even say horror – for your life.
All these are different women, they have different stories and different elements in the behavior of men that frighten them. But these stories have one thing in common: there is no obvious and obvious violence. Men are not burdened with vices in the form of alcohol or drug addictions, they are socially well arranged, if not successful, they take care. They can be both husbands and just partners. And outwardly they look absolutely normal, they don’t run after a woman with fists or with an ax. They don’t even raise their voices.
However, during the relationship there are such micro-moments, after the accumulation of which a woman begins to experience fear.
For example, a woman suddenly loses a flash drive of a unique design, which after a while her man has, and he claims that this is his flash drive and he always had it.
Or he cracks her passwords, arguing that they should not have secrets from each other.
Or he tells her something like, “If you leave me, I’ll die.”
Or she begins to meticulously ask why the security guard in the supermarket smiled at her.
I will not now analyze all the elements of behavior or diagnose men, or talk about the reasons for their particular behavior. It seems to me that the biggest mistake that everyone makes when something in a relationship causes discomfort is that we begin to understand something else, analyze it, dig it out, dissect it, but we don’t think at all about ourselves, about how to deal with it. discomfort.
And yes, there are women with a distorted reality, in projective defenses, with a paranoid radical. That is, their idea of reality can be very different from reality itself. But this case is very easy to check and exclude.
As a rule, such a woman will have a dramatic and difficult relationship with the whole environment. It will seem to her that not only a man wants evil, but her colleagues are plotting, the sellers are rude, her friends use her, her relatives dislike her. And even a psychologist, if she reaches him, will seem to her not good enough, too expensive, inattentive.
We will not dwell on particular cases, we will consider the option when a woman is conditionally normal, previously she was not noticed in what she thinks a lot, she had experience of relationships – and here in the new ones she feels anxiety turning into fear.
- Of course, we already know all these words “stalking” *, “gaslighting”, “psychological violence”, but we do not relate them to ourselves and our lives. It seems to us that all this is somewhere in films, articles, stories from reality shows, but not in our lives. In addition, the huge gap between the main behavior of a man and those micro-moments that disturb him blunts the reaction. In other words, when in 90% of cases a man is caring, kind, calm, generous, his friends love him, his colleagues praise him, he takes old women across the road – and then suddenly steals our flash drive, and then passes it off as his own, we will rather be inclined to consider this an unfortunate misunderstanding than a wake-up call. Until the next fragment happens. And we are also taught from childhood to understand thousands of different things from the work of the early impressionists to the peculiarities of planting varieties of tomatoes, but not in ourselves. Focus on external signs, not internal ones. Therefore, we tend to push our signals deep and do not attach importance to them – planting tomatoes on time is much more important. As a result, it turns out that a woman feels something “not right”, but drives these feelings away from herself, considers them far-fetched and excessive. And continues to be in a relationship. Here I would recommend following a few simple rules:
- “The other person has the right to be anyone and behave differently, and I have the right to my own response and to choose whether it suits me or not.”
- “If I’m anxious or scared, it’s not because I’m a hysterical fool. This is because the other is doing something that causes me anxiety and fear.”
- “It doesn’t matter if he does it intentionally or not – and it’s also not necessary to check whether he is capable of not doing it – it’s better to accept the fact that if a person basically does what causes anxiety and fear in me, his way of life not compatible with mine.
- If suddenly this happened – a partner, husband, boyfriend causes anxiety and fear – there is no need to evaluate his ability to harm you or anyone else. No one – not the most experienced psychologist, not a lawyer, not a policeman, not even his own mother – will give you a 100% guarantee of what he is able to do and what not. It is worth proceeding from the axiom: “He can do anything.” Here you can reproach me for expanding the funnel of fear and drawing it into it – how can you live without knowing from which side the danger threatens and whether it threatens at all. And yes, you can’t sit in a bunker all your life and be afraid of someone. But you can do everything possible for your own safety. Especially if the person who experienced it was already present in the field.
- At first, I thought to write in this paragraph that we have a high tolerance for violence, and therefore a weak ability to recognize it. But after taking a look at all my psychological practice and thinking, I will write that we still have little healthy love and affection. It has become more in families over the past 10 years, but children saturated with it have not yet grown up and have not passed this experience on. Therefore, there are so many “hungry” and undernourished adults in society. The deficit of which is so strong that they take what they wish for reality. In pathological jealousy they see passion and love, in total control – care, in ignorance and disappearances – a thin vulnerable soul that was simply wounded and offended, in stinginess – frugality and thriftiness. Hence, they simply get stuck in relationships that, in a good way, should not have been created at all.
In addition, the world does not strive for harmony. There is more and more stress and fear in it, which means that mental health does not multiply and does not expand. Therefore, psychotherapy becomes especially necessary. Of course, it will not protect against stalking and does not guarantee that you will never meet him, but it will definitely teach you to trust yourself and respond to early bells in others, without waiting for them to become an alarm siren or a funeral bell.
Take care of yourself and your mental health.
* Stalking (from the English. stalking, pronounced “stoking” – persecution) – unwanted obsessive attention to one person from another person or group of people. Stalking is a form of harassment and intimidation; as a rule, it is expressed in the pursuit of the victim, tracking her. Typical behavior of fake stalkers includes constant phone calls and phone harassment, sending unwanted gifts, snooping and spying, unsolicited e-mail and other forms of online abuse, and threats or intimidation.
Both women and men can be stalked. However, according to studies, men make up 83% of false stalkers, and women – about two-thirds of the victims of stalking. About 50% of fake stalkers are ex-partners who start stalking after a breakup or divorce. According to a 2010 study, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men were stalked in the United States.
Although false stalkers themselves often claim that their actions are dictated by attraction, love or jealousy, according to psychologists, the real motivation of false stalkers is the desire to control the victim. The behavior of false stalkers, as a rule, is cyclical and is similar to domestic violence: starting with attempts to “prove their love” by sending letters, flowers or gifts to the victim, the false stalker then moves on to insults and threats, which in the end can be enforced.
According to surveys, as a result of stalking, victims experience fear and anxiety, begin to suffer from panic attacks, nightmares, insomnia, and depression. Victims may also suffer economic losses associated with reduced work capacity, forced purchase of goods for self-defense, forced change of job or even place of residence.
In the case of stalking by a former partner, the stalking is often accompanied by physical violence, including up to the murder of the victim. According to the 1998 US National Violence Against Women Survey, three-quarters of female victims who were stalked by their intimate partners also experienced physical violence from a partner. According to another study, 76% of women who were killed by a partner or former partner were harassed by their killers in the 12 months before the murder.