December 2021 Newsletter

The “Mental Health” issue - 2021 has been another difficult year with no clear end in sight of the COVID pandemic. As a result, our mental health has taken a big hit. While we can’t fix the world, take some time to help yourself and make 2022 a little brighter. This issue opens withWhy Is Hope So Important?, followed by What is The 'Cycle Of Abuse'? How to Recognize Subtle Signs of Domestic Violence, and wraps up with 18 Signs Of Gaslighting & Examples Of How It Plays Out In Abusive Relationships.

We continue to be here to help you and your family with your legal needs. Please call 505-881-2566 to schedule an appointment. Our receptionist is in the office to take your call Monday through Thursday 8:00 am to 5:30 pm, and Friday 8:00 am to noon.

Why Is Hope So Important?

Posted on

To have hope is to want an outcome that makes your life better in some way. It not only can help make a tough present situation more bearable but also can eventually improve our lives because envisioning a better future motivates you to take the steps to make it happen.

Whether we think about it or not, hope is a part of everyone’s life. Everyone hopes for something. It’s an inherent part of being a human being. Hope helps us define what we want in our futures and is part of the self-narrative about our lives we all have running inside our minds.

What Is Hope, Exactly?

The definition of hope can differ depending on the person doing the talking. When people speak about hope in a spiritual context, it might mean believing good things will happen with faith in a higher power. They might direct their hopes outward in prayer.

For others, it might mean always looking on the bright side and seeing challenges as opportunities. In other words, always “hoping for the best.” Merriam-Webster’s definition makes “hope” seem close to “wish”: “to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true.”

Whatever the details, hope in general means a desire for things to change for the better, and to want that better situation very much.

Hope Is Not Optimism

Hope is not the same as optimism. An optimistic generally is more hopeful than others. On the other hand, the most pessimistic person you ever met can still be hopeful about something. Hope is very specific and focused, usually on just one issue.

Such as “I hope I get that job I interviewed for” or “I hope she calls me.” Or, for a little kid during the holidays, “I hope I get that bike I wanted!”

Why Hope Is So Vital

Most people associate hope with a dire situation. People hope to get out of difficult circumstances. That

is often when people do find themselves hoping fervently! But hope also can provide the key to making everyday life better.

That’s because just envisioning something hopeful – the child seeing herself riding her new bike, for example – gives a person a moment of happiness, according to Psychology Today. It can make present difficulties much easier to bear.

An example of that is reported by the American Psychology Association. Children who grew up in poverty but had success later in life all had one thing in common – hope. Dr. Valerie Maholmes, who worked on the research, said hope involves “planning and motivation and determination” to get what one hopes for.

Deeper Meaning

In a way, having hope links your past and present to the future. You have a vision for what you hope will happen. Whether it does not, just envisioning it can make you feel better. And if it’s something you can somewhat control – like the kids working to get out of poverty – then hope can motivate you to take whatever steps you need to take.

Dr. Neel Burton, a book author who writes about emotions, writes that he always asks patients for what they hope for, because if they say “nothing” then that is a sign of depression or worse.

Having hope is important to the very act of being a human being. As Dr. Judith Rich writes, “Hope is a match in a dark tunnel, a moment of light, just enough to reveal the path ahead and ultimately the way out.”

What Is The 'Cycle Of Abuse'? How to Recognize

Subtle Signs of Domestic Violence

Posted by Keya Murthy, M.S., C.Ht. 10/16/2019

The cycle of abuse is a pretty personal phrase for me. Growing up as a shy, quiet and introverted child, loud noise felt like abuse to me. I would freeze up anytime I heard any. Early on, I learned that people laughing loudly could turn into yelling in an instant. I did not understand the difference between hateful arguments and healthy debate. To the child in me, conflict always was, and has been, a precursor of something violent, whether it was verbal, physical or emotional.

What is the cycle of abuse?

By definition, "The cycle of abuse is a social cycle theory developed in 1979 by Lenore E. Walker to explain patterns of behavior in an abusive relationship."

When all a child experiences growing up is negative interactions, that is what they learn to crave as an adult — negative attention. Almost everything in life turns into a dare. Teenagers learn to hurt themselves crying out for attention. Hurting themselves makes them believe they matter. This is how they feel alive.

When they get older and enter romantic relationships, they subconsciously deduce that to get noticed, they need to do something negative. This is how abuse is born.

Emotion is energy in motion, a frequency vibrating between two poles. The one you want wants you. The one you fear fears you. The one you love loves you.

These emotions such as want, fear, hate and love are subconscious in nature. That aren't what you think in your head, but rather what you feel in the recesses of your brain's limbic system, aka, your feeling mind.

Each of these emotions arises unconsciously out of forgotten memory, or even via something as visceral as smell. It can be difficult to recognize how or when abuse begins in your own relationships.

All you can work with is you, but if you know how to recognize typical patterns of abusive relationships, you can protect yourself and find a way out.

The cycle of abuse in domestic violence is pattern consisting of the following four phases"

Important note: The following is a generalized pattern and not all phases may apply to every instance of abuse or domestic violence.

1. Tension building phase

For a while, when things go amiss, self-blame begins. Soon, you blame the other and realize that you are living in a war zone. I was walking on eggshells in my own abusive relationship, always apologizing and worrying that something might happen. Fear of the unknown set in.

There are a few things you can control someone else with — food, sex, money, children. In my case, it was food. When I cooked, the response was, "I have eaten today." And if I didn’t cook because there were leftovers, the first question, "What did you cook today?" So, the next day, I cooked fresh and the generic response was "I ate before I came" or "I had a huge lunch."

It took me time to realize that this was his way of controlling me. A game is a duel between two. Deciding to quit the game ensured the game was not played.

Cooking is a creative process for me. Making myself a priority, I started to cook every day even when there were leftovers. My silence was the response when asked, "What did you cook today?" In a short while, the question stopped getting asked.

Playing someone else's game of cat and mouse lost its appeal. There was always a feeling of something is about to happen and whatever is about to happen cannot be pleasant. Though in the same physical house, we were in separate emotional and mental houses. When we had guests, I was first reminded that our guests were my secret lovers. “You should come more often because it's only when you come that I get to eat" was the response when guests praised the meal. Belittling is common.

2. Crisis/acute violence phase

This is when the game is out in the open. In this phase, partners have no qualms of abusing the other in the open. There is no shame. You fight in front of friends, family, and even in public places.

"I'm going to leave" or "Why don't you leave?" are often a part of the conversation. There are open affairs. Best friends could turn into lovers. Lies abound in every instant. Sleeping arrangements shift.Either timing is different or the place where you sleep is no longer the same. Everything feels like an act. Sometimes, you're afraid of physical abuse and hurting the children. Medications, drugs, and/or alcohol are constant every day. Addictions are abundant (my addiction was work).

There might be open verbal and physical abuse too. Threats are a part of everyday existence. Things break in and around the house. Car accidents occur.

Everyone in and around your home and house knows that things are not working out for you. Your loved ones who live far away from you get a whiff of your crises in your conversations and silence. You often have sleepovers at your friend's place. Staying away from home is common and gets more frequent overtime for both you and/or your partner. You love to visit friends and work on their projects because helping others bring you joy.

When the relationship reaches its end, fear strikes. You ask yourself "What will happen when this relationship that I want to end does end?" It's fear of loss combined with fear of the success smeared with fear of the unknown. A friend of mine was in an unhappy marriage and when her daughter was born, she said to me, "I am not ready to give up something that I invested thirty years of my life into."

Thirty years of joyless living and she was willing to stretch it because she did not know who she would be without a joyless life.

3. Rebuilding/honeymoon phase

This stage was interesting in my case. I filed for my divorce in 2006. My ex contested it within thirty days. When asked to show up in court, he left town, state, and country. When he had said that divorce is better than staying married, I went ahead and filed for it. Yet when he had to face it, he did everything he could to save it including visit my parents and asking them to counsel me.

The divorce went through in 2007 as a one-sided case. A few weeks later, it was our youngest son’s birthday who was wondering why his dad wasn’t there with us. I called my ex up and he returned to our town.

He did all he could to return home. After much coaxing and emotional manipulation, I caved. I wanted our baby to build a relationship with his dad. My ex wanted to re-establish his relation with me. I let him into the house and moved into our unfinished garage.

I wanted a home for the children, he wanted his marriage.

I have heard of couples who divorce and remarry. I have heard of couples who reconciled their differences on a cruise. Various reasons could make you reconsider rebuilding your relation.

4. Calm phase

Everything returns to appearing calm and chill. You act like an adult and assume your partner is an adult, too.

If something happens, you are quick to say sweet nothings. Both of you often say "I love you" or "I'm sorry" and forgive the other even without any active seeking.

When something is amiss, you admit your mistake right away. (I say things like, "I don't know what's wrong with me.") Bottom of Form

You may go seeking help on the internet or seek out a confidante. The subject is broached in formal and informal settings in your church or among friends.

In this cycle of abuse, things may get so bad that you won't be able to hide the truth from yourself anymore. Whether it's through self-effort or outer intervention, you may try to make it work. You or your partner may move out because taking time out makes sense to at least one of you.

Looking at everything objectively and giving your relationship another go seems a rational choice. Things calm down for a while. You seek counsel. After a few visits to an expert, you begin to feel like an expert yourself.

If you have not worked through everything consciously, the subconscious programming surfaces. Soon, tension arises again and you find the crises once again staring you in the face.

These cycles can continue five, seven or even ten times (or more) before the pattern interrupts.

The only way to break the cycle of abuse and violence is by recognizing it for what it is.

There are many types of abuse, including emotional, verbal, and physical. No matter how it shows up, abuse and violence are one and the same.

In society, physical violence gets more attention than emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and mental abuse. Name-calling is outright violence (I would add sarcasm to that category too). In many cultures, people insult you and then say they were kidding.

As a matter of fact, if your joke isn’t funny to me, then it is not a joke — it is an insult.

The only joke that is funny to me is when you make fun of yourself and laugh along with your audience.

Here are 11 additional signs of an abusive relationship that may less obvious than other forms of physical and psychological violence:

  1. Poor or excessive sleep
  2. Lacking appetite or overeating
  3. Staying longer at work than necessary in order to avoid going home
  4. Constantly seeking entertainment and/or distractions, whether through shopping, social media, television, etc.
  5. Inability to engage in conversation without raising your voice or feeling you must lie or withhold information
  6. Texting or talking to a best friend or sibling every day or more than once a day about troubles in your relationship
  7. Dressing differently than you normally would
  8. Spending more time in the bathroom
  9. Hating it when guests leave
  10. Digestive tract challenges
  11. Conversations get choppy — for example, you begin saying something and end it with, "Never mind"

Now that you're aware of what abusive behavior looks like and what it can do to you, it's time to take the necessary steps breaking free and recovering. If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, there are resources available in your state, as well as the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233).

Keya Murthy, President and CEO of Ventura Healing Center, is a Certified Trainer in Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP). All her books are available on Amazon and on her website in digital form.

18 Signs Of Gaslighting & Examples Of How It

Plays Out In Abusive Relationships

Posted by Brittney Lindstrom on, 08/24/2020

Gaslighting isn't a new concept, but in recent years the term has gained increasing attention as discussions of emotional and psychological abuse have become more common and the media has become more likely to highlight gaslighting examples in stories of abusive behavior.

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of emotional and mental abuse in which the abuser questions or denies the victim's reality, making them doubt themselves in order to deflect from their own guilt and bad behavior. Because you are being manipulated into believed something that is not true — that you are the "bad," "irrational," or "abusive" person in the situation, or that things you know are true are not — gaslighting can make you feel crazy. If someone is gaslighting you, you may literally question your own sanity and stop believing in yourself.

As signs of gaslighting pop up in your relationship over time, they are likely to be subtle, especially at the beginning. An abuser may try twisting your words to fit their own narrative, or they may flat out lies about things in a way that is so adamant and angry you back down and blame yourself for ever having raised the issue you (rightfully) raised in the first place.

Knowing how to recognize gaslighting when you encounter it can help you protect yourself and others from this particularly damaging kind of psychological warfare. Stay informed and pass on this information because you never know whose life you are saving:

18 Signs of Gaslighting With Examples:

1. You feel something is off but can't pinpoint what or why.

How can you possibly tell anyone that something is wrong or off if you don’t know how to explain it or specifically what it is? This makes the victim feel weaker and more isolated.

Example: Your partner speaks proudly of being the provider in your relationship, but never seems to have his wallet with him when the check comes.

2. You have frequent feelings of confusion and disorientation.

You feel like you're in a daze and things around you are blurred.

Example: You find yourself zoning out, lost in thought as you revisit confusing conversations that didn't go as you expected, and you can't figure out why.

3. Your partner's actions do not align with what they're saying.

What they are saying and what they do are completely different. Remember this: when a story or explanation starts becoming confusing or not making sense, it’s likely the other person is lying.

Example: Your partner says they couldn't possibly have taken money from your purse because they don't even know where you keep it, but you know it was right there on the kitchen counter in the morning when they were in there making coffee and you were in the shower.

4. You start doubting yourself, making it difficult for you to make decisions.

Your ability to make simple decisions becomes increasingly difficult.

Example: You want to buy a new car and you've purchased several on your own in the past, but now your partner has been telling you that you let people take advantage of you, so you don't feel safe going through with it without taking them along with you to the dealership.

5. You constantly apologize for what you do or who you are.

Even though you have no idea what you did or why the abuser is saying or doing things, you will apologize in hopes of smoothing things over.

Example: You were so excited to post that cute selfie on Instagram ... until your partner told you it made you look desperate for attention. So you apologized for being so vain and delete the post because now it just makes you sad to see it there on your feed.

6. You feel unusually fearful and scared of your partner.

You become increasingly fearful of the abuser. You don’t know who to tell or what to do because you can’t exactly put your finger on why you’re afraid.

Example: You have something you want to tell your partner, because that what partners do, but you just know there's a good chance it will set them off, even though it's honestly no big deal.

7. You never feel good enough for you partner.

How can you feel good enough for the abuser when they are constantly putting you down?

Example: You're so excited to have a started a new evening walk routine, but you know your partner is still unimpressed you're just walking quickly, not jogging.

8. You find it increasingly difficult to trust your own judgment.

You start believing things are made up in your head and you can’t think straight. You start doubting your intuition and gut feelings and start believing their judgments.

Example: You just know your partner and that "friend from work" seem to be spending way too much time together, but you've been told you're jealous so many times, you wonder if it's really just you being insecure.

9. You feel as if you're "neurotic" or "losing it."

They will brainwash you to a point of questioning your own sanity and judgment. You will feel like you're going crazy.

Example: You've had this suspicion that they are in the wrong so many times before, but they've always managed to turn things around so you are the one who apologizes, so you literally start to wonder if maybe there's something wrong with your mental health.

10. You're afraid and fearful to speak up about anything or stick up for yourself.

You want to avoid confrontation at all costs so you remain silent.

Example: Even when you know you are in the right, you have been so rattled by their psychological warfare in prior arguments that you'd rather blow it off than risk facing their furious denial again.

11. You second-guess your ability to recall past events and details.

Because you start believing their judgments and versions of events, you start to second and third guess yourself and wonder if certain things were completely made up in your own mind.

Example: You revisit arguments in your head over and over, wondering how you could possibly have been so sure you were right when they so easily proved you wrong.

12. You feel like you're constantly overreacting or being too sensitive.

You blame yourself by telling yourself that you’re overreacting or being too sensitive.

Example: You confront your partner for something you know was a complete violation of your trust, but somehow the conversation always ends with you apologizing for overreacting or jumping to conclusions.

13. You feel hopeless and helpless.

You feel trapped and feel there’s no way out.

Example: You know you want to leave the relationship, but you just feel like you can't, even though you can't explain why.

14. Your partner calls you crazy or tell others you're crazy.

They want you to feel crazy and want others around you to think you are crazy so that you are isolated in your thoughts and mind.

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Example: When you tell your partner something is bothering you, they ask if you've spoken to your therapist about that.

15. Your partner tells you everyone else is a liar.

They will never admit they did something wrong or lied about anything. They will portray themselves to be perfect and everyone else out to be the bad ones.

Example: Your partner's best friend confesses to you that they know there is someone else, but your partner insists their own best friend is making it all up.

16. Your partner takes what you value and love most and uses it against you.

Your family. Your friends. Your classmates. Your professors. School. Anything that you value and is important to you may be used against you.

Example: When you tell your partner your mom, dad, sister, brother or best friend pointed out something they did that was obviously unfair to you, your partner goes off about how your family has never accepted them because they are so judgmental and elitist.

17. Your partner denies they ever said or did anything — even with solid evidence presented.

You can tell them that the sky is blue and they will continue to tell you the sky is red or green.

Example: You show your partner a photo of them with their arm around that same work friend's waist and they tell you someone photoshopped it as a prank.

18. Your partner attempts to get other people to go against you.

They want you to have no one. They want you to be alone and isolated with no one to tell you the truth or plant the seed that something is wrong with the abuser.

Example: Before you can ask someone to verify your partner's side of the story, your partner has gone to that person and warned them that you have been irrationally jealous lately and that they should be careful if you try to talk them.

These examples of gaslighting are extremely dangerous and can be harmful to your long-term mental health.

Because of the slow progression of such subtle acts that over time, it becomes more serious the longer you allow the abuse to continue, and could eventually lead you to develop PTSD.

You should never doubt your instincts and always listen to yourself when something feels off. You don’t owe anyone an explanation about why or how a person is affecting you.

If someone is negatively impacting your life, end the relationship before it goes any further, and know that you are not alone.