Do you know the false abuse allegation risk factors for men in relationships with borderline, narcissist or histrionic women? If you’re married to one of these women, it’s essential that you do. There’s a lot at stake. Including the relationships with your kids, your reputation, livelihood, freedom and physical and emotional well-being.
Typically, the cleverer ones won’t outright accuse you of specific abuses. Especially if they’re manufacturing evidence to obtain a restraining order to gain advantage in family court. In which case, they make vague or soft accusations that are ripe for erroneous assumption and difficult to refute. For example, “I feel unsafe.”
Anyone can feel unsafe absent any actual threats to their safety. Remember, feelings aren’t facts. Courts aren’t equipped to determine whether a person actually feels afraid or unsafe, etc. In which case, “I feel unsafe” poses less legal jeopardy than easily disprovable highly detailed abuse allegations.
Thus, an attorney can argue, “No, your Honor. Mr Mealticket didn’t strike or threaten to strike Ms Fullabeans. But he yells all the time and Ms Fullabeans feels afraid.”
It doesn’t matter that Ms Fullabeans instigates the majority of arguments and yells as much or more than Mr Mealticket. It doesn’t matter that Ms Fullabeans clawed Mr Mealticket’s face. That’s “reactive abuse.” Her feelings are her feelings and they’re real to her. Or, so her attorney will claim and, unfortunately, many therapists.
Ideally, mental health professionals help individuals reality test their feelings and maladaptive beliefs. We help them work through unresolved emotional and relational issues from childhood and identify ongoing self-sabotaging relationship behaviors and patterns. Most importantly, we help clients embrace personal accountability, not help them craft elaborate psychobabble word salad victim narratives. Meaningful change doesn’t occur unless we take full responsibility for our decisions. But I digress.
False abuse allegation risk factors for men in relationships with borderline, narcissist or histrionic women.
Assuming she hasn’t called 911 yet, it’s time to gather your wits and get your bleep together. Snap out of the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt). Stop the stupid JADE (justify, argue, defend, explain) circular arguments about whether she’s a borderline and you’re a narcissist. Just stop. If you don’t, you’re giving her more NPD/BPD/HPD fanfic material to pad her victim claims.
Refusal to have another pointless fight you can’t win because its premise is false or greatly exaggerated isn’t being selfish, cruel, mean, cold or abusive. Nor is it evidence of not dealing with her, not loving her or not fighting for the relationship. Evidentially speaking, you’re exercising self-control so as not to expose the kids to more parental conflict. Also, if she feels so unsafe in your presence why does she try so hard to pick fights with you?
In family court and custody evaluations, it’s unlikely you’ll be viewed unfavorably for abstaining from childish arguments. Especially, if your goal is to deescalate conflict for the sake of the children and your own mental health. Continuing to argue with Crazy usually has the effect of making you both look crazy. And, if you’re a man, it could also help Crazy to look like the victim by claiming reactive abuse. He or she who can control their emotions best usually fairs better in these situations.
Assess the threat level a NPD, BPD or HPD partner poses to you.
The following are risk patterns I’ve identified in my practice. Does your wife or girlfriend:
- Threaten to call the police as a form of coercive control and intimidation?
- Taunt you by saying, “Who do you think the cops will believe?“
- Record you? Or, do you suspect she records you?
- Say things like, “Get way from me! Don’t touch me!” when you’re nowhere near her? (If so, she’s definitely recording you.)
- Say things like, “I feel unsafe. You scare me. You’re so angry,” or other variations on this theme?
- Accuse you of somehow harming or scaring the kids when you don’t allow her to bully and control you?
- Have a history of physically assaulting you and/or destroying your property?
- Parentify and emotionally incest the kids? In other words, using a child as an emotional caretaker, protector, confidante or surrogate spouse?
- Boast she’ll get the house, the money and you won’t see the kids if you leave her?
- Tell on herself by saying “everyone” knows how abusive you are? (If so, the smear campaign is likely already underway).
- Undermine your ability to parent and/or spend one-on-one time with the kids?
- Stalk your social media?
- Accuse you of recording her and forcibly grab your phone?
- Cheat on you? In other words, lining up a white knight triangle and her next enabler?
Any one of these behaviors is problematic. The more you can identify, the more you’re at risk of false allegations. If you haven’t sought legal counsel yet, I urge you to do so.
Assess the false abuse allegation risk factors for men you pose to yourself by becoming healthier.
It’s a cliche how easily triggered people with personality disorders can be. Politely disagreeing with them can be a trigger. Putting extra salt on your mashed potatoes can be a trigger. Visiting your family on your father’s birthday can be a trigger. Leaving for work in the morning can be a trigger.
The big triggers — i.e., the ones most likely to trigger a 911 call, false allegations and restraining orders — are anything that kicks off the NPD, BPD or HPD’s 5 fundamental fears. These individuals fear: 1) losing control and dominance; 2) losing assets and resources; 3) feeling or appearing inferior and inadequate; 4) being abandoned; and 5) exposure.
In my practice, the following client changes are the ones that most commonly lead to police involvement. Narcissistic, borderline and histrionic women (and men) become triggered when you:
- Set and enforce healthy boundaries.
- Emotionally detach and disengage (i.e., not getting pulled into dramas and conflicts).
- Hold them accountable.
- Make your feelings, wants and needs as much of a priority as her feelings, wants and needs.
- Criticize their behavior.
- Insist on better behavior (e.g., no more disrespect, dishonesty, double standards and undermining you as a parent).
- Seek emotional support either from mental health professionals or family and friends.
- Practice self-care like regular exercise and making time for friends and family.
- Set reasonable limits on how much money the NPD, BPD or HPD spends. (Not spending the family into bankruptcy and homelessness is NOT financial abuse, folks).
- Discover the they’re cheating.
- File for divorce.
- Begin a new relationship after divorce.
If you become stronger, healthier, have more self-respect and less tolerance for their disrespect, entitlement, lack of integrity and other aberrant traits and behaviors, it will trigger them. Expect it and prepare for it.
Assess vulnerabilities for false abuse allegation risk factors for men.
Your fears, vulnerabilities and the cumulative effect of abuse are the levers by which a narcissist, histrionic or borderline partner manipulates and dominates you. This includes pushing your buttons to elicit big emotional reactions. And this is precisely what you mustn’t give her. The ability to effectively compartmentalize in these situations is vitally important.
Ordinarily, I encourage clients to feel and process their emotions. It’s necessary in order to heal. However, when you’re entering the guerilla warfare Plunderdome of a high conflict divorce and custody, you’re better served by postponing the heavy emotional work. That’s to say, do focus on reality testing, managing anxiety and depression symptoms and employing coping strategies. At least until after you’ve an enforceable temporary custody order and are reasonably sure of your attorney’s competence and commitment to you and your kids.
The following are common vulnerabilities and issues I help clients with in my practice:
- Learned helplessness.
- Avoidant tendencies. Sticking your head in the sand makes your butt an easier target.
- Analysis paralysis (i.e., overthinking leading to a failure to act).
- Reality testing themselves out of the denial and bargaining stages of grief.
- Disorganized (ADHD guys I’m talking to you!)
- Suppressing the compulsion to JADE (justify, argue, defend, explain).
- Learned fear responses (fight, flight, freeze or fawn).
- Codependent, rescuer, people pleaser, fixer, “Mr. Nice Guy” tendencies.
- Lack of social and emotional support.
- Trauma bond related issues.
- Poor personal boundaries.
- Thirstiness for approval and being liked.
- Easily manipulated via shame, fear, guilt and obligation.
- High trust and low discernment. This can be a disastrous combination in relation to selecting an attorney. It’s the Charlie Brown, Lucy van Pelt football metaphor. In other words, some clients — no matter how many times their ex and/or attorney screw them over — keep going back for more.
I can’t stress enough the importance of finding a way to manage these issues. Of equal importance is finding a mental health professional who has expertise in this area and can provide gentle nudges or a kindly kick in the backside as needed. Many clients arrive to my practice too late in the game. They’ve already made too many unforced errors and sustained irreparable damage to their cases. This includes attorneys who just don’t get it and/or only care about their fees.
Don’t wait. Seek guidance before your narcissist, borderline or histrionic partner calls the cops and gets an ex parte restraining order against you. It is possible to avoid this. You need to be proactive and intelligent about how you go about it. This includes effective and diligent documentation. It doesn’t have to be a she said vs. he said police call or court appearance. There are documentation best practices, too.
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals with relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. For over a decade, she has specialized in helping men and women break free of abusive relationships, cope with the stress of ongoing abuse and heal from the trauma. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. If you’d like to work with Dr. Palmatier, please visit the Schedule a Session page or you can email her directly at email@example.com.
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