Month: August 2017

Goodbye, Erzsebet!

Erzsebet Helmeczy

Program and Communications Intern, 2017

eh2688a@student.american.edu

I’m honored to have had the opportunity to work as a Program and Communications Intern at Becky’s Fund. It was very exciting and rewarding to use the research I previously completed on sexual assault prevention programming in my work developing Men of Code, the primary prevention initiative I worked on and taught this summer. Becky allowed her interns quite a bit of independence in style, so there was a sense of satisfaction I felt at the completion of each class knowing that the curriculum taught was the one I had put effort into writing and editing with my co-workers. The classes didn’t always go as expected, but I learned a lot about education programming and non-profit outreach because of this. As the weeks progressed, I believe I gained a new confidence in the classroom, something I’m very proud of considering my initial hesitation to teach. My favorite part about working for Becky’s Fund was the wide variety of tasks that Becky assigned to me. These allowed for previous skill sets to be strengthened and new skill sets to be developed, which is all I could hope for from an internship experience.

I know that before I applied to Becky’s Fund, I did a lot of research about the organization and read the final reflections of past interns. I welcome those considering interning at Becky’s Fund to contact me and ask more questions about the position, if interested. The Program and Communications internship pushed me out of my comfort zone on many levels, restored confidence in my ability to try new things, and showed me that I’m capable of handling and successfully completing a variety of different tasks. I met new people and became friends with my co-workers, who I had a great time working with. Thank you Becky for this wonderful opportunity and for your mentorship throughout this summer. I hope to keep in touch with you as I continue on to the next! Best of luck,

 

~Erzsebet

What are ghosting, benching, gaslighting, and lovebombing? Tactics of emotional abuse.

By Anthony Perez, contributor Erzsebet Helmeczy

As in most cases of domestic and dating violence, the enforcement of power and control always play a role. Whether physical, emotional, financial or verbal abuse, the abuser aims to dominate and push their victim to submission. At times it may be difficult to recognize manipulation. Tactics of emotional abuse such as ghosting, benching, gaslighting, and recently-coined “lovebombing” have been haunting people from relationship to relationship. It’s easy to mistake some of these behaviors as signs of affection, thus important to distinguish their characteristics in order to avoid partners that use them.

Lovebombing

Have you ever found yourself in a wild romance where your partner showers you with gifts, tells you everything you want to hear, relates to you in almost every way…and next thing you know, and in little time at all, you two are moving in together? You may want to slow down and be cautious. Not to knock off true love, but this is a scenario often used by sociopaths, narcissists, and manipulators to take advantage of their partners. The term “lovebombing” trends from situations where an abuser bombards their partner with presents, attention, affection, and compliments. This may entail extensive texting, emails, messages on social media, phone calls, constant flirting, and love notes to the point that victims are overwhelmed by the attention, but also drawn to it. The wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing is giving their partner everything they want in a relationship; things only seen or heard of in romance films. However, as the manipulation continues, the victim loses track of what’s happening. The relationship moves quickly, and the more time the victim spends with their partner, the less they spend with others. They may lose their independence and agency, and thus the abuser maintains power and control.

The victim may not realize they are being manipulated, especially since the relationship feels so comfortable. However, just like any honeymoon or “honeymoon phase” of a new relationship, the feeling eventually comes to an end. The victim may still be emotionally attached to the abuser, but once they want to start applying attention elsewhere, the abuser shows their true colors. They might become angry and overly jealous, enforcing outrageous demands such as spending all their time with their partner, which may further distance the victim’s friends and family. Abusers will often use these tactics on people who tend to feel lonely, or those who feel they need an intimate relationship with another person and are counting on it. After spending so much time with the abuser, and so little time with other people, the victim may become emotionally dependent. They will do as the abuser says in order to maintain the company and affection of their partner.

Gaslighting

Next, we will discuss gaslighting. This term references a stage play in the 1930s titled “Gas Light”. In the play, a husband who is trying to get rid of his wife attempts to make her think that she is going slowly mad by making subtle changes to her environment (e.g. slightly dimming the flame on the gas lamp). Dr. George Simons, who has specialized in personality and character disturbances for almost 25 years, defines gaslighting as a “sophisticated manipulation tactic which certain types of personalities use to create doubt in the minds of others.” Though this is a ploy that can be used outside of the realm of dating and relationships, abusers can also use this to get what they want from their partners.

Gaslighting can be achieved through several different methods. In some situations, the manipulator could profess something so intensely, firm and with confidence that they provoke the victim to doubt their own perspective and gut feeling. A popular example of this is when a speaker backs their argument with seemingly accurate historical facts, but distort or omit certain pieces of crucial information in order to skew an image in their favor. Fiercely denying something could also be a form of gaslighting, which is a method used often by cheaters. They make their partners believe that their suspicions are just paranoia. They evoke deep doubt, and the victim loses faith in their own intuition and may begin to believe that they are just overthinking things, that they are crazy, or that they should calm down and trust their abuser.

Benching

With the use of technology on the rise, the online dating culture has influenced modern relationships and the issues that single people face. One such issue is benching. Though this existed long before technology, online dating has encouraged the practise of benching. Apps like Tinder, Bumble and Grindr have made finding a new partner fairly easy so that with just one swipe, we can begin chatting with a completely different and new person. Thus, this feeling that there is always someone better lingers in our minds and causes us to avoid commitment. Benchers keep their “options open” in order to not make a wrong choice.

While this behavior is becoming normalized in our dating culture, it still plays a toll on the victim. Benchers keep their partners at disposal in order to not feel alone. Yet, benchers refrain from taking things seriously just in case they meet someone better. The victim feels they are being toyed with and just when they are at the point of giving up and moving on, the bencher reappears to keep them interested. This gives a false sense of hope to the victim, who may be looking for something more serious or long term. The best thing to do in this situation is have an honest conversation about expectations and terms of the relationship, come to a decision, and hold one another accountable for following through on the promises. In this situation, “actions speak louder than words”.

Ghosting

Ghosting is similar to benching. However, while benching keeps various partners on standby, ghosting completely cuts off the connection with no intent of speaking again. The reasoning behind ghosting is that the person being ghosted will eventually realize that there is no more interest and just move on, but that may not always be the case. People dislike having to let someone down so they just avoid communication altogether; however, just like any problem, avoiding communication is never the solution. People who are ghosted are shocked by the sudden up-and-leave which leaves them confused about where it all went wrong. It is actually a form of emotional cruelty as the victim is now dealing with feelings of social rejection. Disappointing someone does not leave a good feeling in their stomach, but ghosting leaves a heavier, longer-term impact on those affected.

Some people are unaware of the harm they bring when they lovebomb, gaslight, bench, or ghost people, though these are often tactics used by sociopaths, narcissists, and manipulators to obtain power and control over their partners. Regardless if intentional or not, these are forms of manipulation and therefore forms of emotional abuse. Keeping an awareness of abusive tactics is crucial for recognizing patterns that raise red flags marking unhealthy relationships. It’s important to understand and spread awareness about abusive relationships so that we can both escape abusive situations and avoid being the manipulator ourselves.

 

Goodbye, Becca!

Please join us in saying goodbye, good luck, and thank you to Becca as she heads back to Notre Dame to finish up her senior year! The picture below shows her holding “The Taskmaster” sign to illustrate her leadership style next to her co-facilitator for Men of Code, Erzsebet.

Here are a few words from her on her summer:

“As my summer internship at Becky’s Fund comes to a close, I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and inspiring team, and for the chance to deeper explore the epidemic of domestic violence and what we can do to break the cycle. At Becky’s Fund, I taught two Men of Code classes each week and worked on a variety of other projects, including development and revision of the Men of Code curriculum, writing grants, posting on social media, researching specific DV resources and programs, and much more. Because of the diverse nature of my assignments, I learned a ton about domestic violence and the non-profit scene in only eight weeks! In mid-August, I’ll be heading back to Notre Dame for my senior year in college, and my time at Becky’s Fund has helped me to develop my goals for a post-graduate career in non-profit and advocacy work. I’m looking forward to my senior year, but am even more excited for life after graduation! Thanks to Becky for her support and wisdom, and to Erzsebet, Amanda, Anthony, and Rachel for making Becky’s Fund such an entertaining place to work!”

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