It’s time for a new book!
I have decided to focus my second book on the topic of Financial Abuse/Exploitation. It is a very covert part of hidden abuse and one that is not discussed nearly enough.
The foundation of this book will be survivor stories. We learn and grown with one another. Financial abuse is a topic that must come out of the shadows and into the light so more people can know they are not alone.
Financial abuse and exploitation can occur as an entrepreneur, within families, among friends and within places of worship.
To anonymously participate in the research segment of this project, please click on the link below. Your time, honesty and generosity are appreciated more than you can know – Shannon
“Welcome to The Mental Breakdown and Psychreg Podcast! Today, Dr. Berney and Dr. Marshall have the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Shannon Thomas, a licensed clinical social work supervisor, the owner and lead therapist of an award-winning private practice-counseling agency in Southlake, Texas and best-selling author of ‘Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse.'”
“Shannon Thomas discusses her important book about something ugly, hidden, and difficult to describe. Psychological abuse. How is it possible that one person can gain so much power to destroy another person’s sense of worth, safety, and sanity? Shannon tells you how, but more importantly, she gives you a roadmap that helps you wake up, break free, heal, and rebuild what feels like your shattered life.”
I know what love-bombing is
I know what idealizing means
I know that “gaslighting” was not just a movie
I know where “hoovering” gets its name
I know what it’s like to be “projected” on
I know that being “mirrored” doesn’t involve an actual mirror
I know what it’s like to be lied to
I know what it’s like to feel trapped
I know and have experienced being “hollowed”
I know and can recognize “flying monkeys”
I know what “intermittent reinforcement” is
I know what it feels like to be devalued
I know what it feels like to be disrespected
I know what it feels like to not be cherished
I know what it’s like to be criticized and condemned
I know what it’s like to be spoken to in a condescending tone
I know what it feels like to be emotionally abandoned
I know what it’s like to see my children witness psychological abuse
I know what it’s like to not do anything right no matter how hard you try
I know that a “smear campaign” happens outside of the political arena
I know that drama isn’t always on stage
I know what a lack of empathy in a person looks like
I know that life-sucking vampires really exist
I know what it’s like to see a toddler in a grown man’s body
I know that “discard” has nothing to do with a deck of cards
I know how important “NO CONTACT” is
I know that at times “detached contact” is best
I know what boundaries are and that they were completely disregarded
I know that abuse doesn’t always leave scars and bruises
I know what it’s like to see evil in human form
I know that “Jekyl and Hyde” is not just a great musical
I know what a “mask” is and have seen it taken on and off
I know what codependency is and realized I became one
I know what “covert” and “overt” are
I know what it feels like to “walk on egg-shells”
I know what it feels like to think you’re going crazy
I know that “triangulating” is not a symbol played in music class
I know what it feels like to stop trusting people
I know what it feels like to be skeptical of everyone
I know what it feels like to be anxious all of the time
I know what it feels like to be isolated and alone
I know what it’s like to be controlled
I know what it’s like to want to be perfect
I know what it feels like to be a puppet on a string
I know when my prayers changed
I know what it feels like to break free
I know what it feels like to climb out of the pit of despair
I know what it feels like to trust my judgement again
I know what it feels like to educate myself on what I’ve experienced
I know what it feels like to peel back painful but necessary layers of healing
I know what it feels like to not be consumed with anxiety
I know what it feels like to smile
I know what joy feels like when it enters your soul again
I know what it feels like to spend time with my family and friends again
I know what it feels like to restore my relationship with my children
I know and have witnessed my children healing from psychological abuse
I know what it’s like to be independent again and financially not tied to anyone
I know what it’s like to care for my well-being
I know what it’s like to not be depressed
I know what it feels like to be hopeful for mine and my kids future
I know what it’s like to exercise and eat right
I know what it feels like to breathe again
I know what it’s like to not allow a person to signify my worth and beauty
I know what strength and courage look like
I know what it’s like to learn to love again
I know that God loves me…no matter what
I know I can be healed
I know I can be redeemed
I know I can be restored
I know I am a daughter of the Most High
I know I don’t worry about people judging me
I know I no longer judge people who are in/or have been in toxic relationships
I know I no longer judge anyone who chooses divorce
I know I have been there
I know someone needs to hear my story…BEAUTY FROM ASHES
Pass it on….
In this series on adult bullies, we have looked at the Accusing Bully who has a need to make you their scapegoat so they don’t have to look at their own shortcomings. We have also examined the Bitter Bully who may have started out as someone close to you, but when your life took off in some great way, the Bitter Bully became threatened. Both of these adult bullies are driven by their insecurities. Not so for the next bully. Calculating Bullies are driven by rage. They want your life full of misery and are willing to be the vessel to make that happen. Wonderful, right? Even though we may not want to acknowledge that terrible people exist in the world, they do. We are naïve to think we will never cross paths with someone who would love to see us fail.
Who are these Calculating Bullies? They could be a family member, co-worker, someone pretending to be a friend or romantic interest. They can also be people we meet while involved in a ministry or church. Basically, there are multiple ways a calculating bully can enter your life. My hope is that being able to identify how these folks operate will help you to create solid boundaries around a calculating bully so their poison doesn’t fully engulf your life.
I am often asked why Calculating Bullies set out to pick apart someone’s sense of self-worth and goodness in life. This form of adult bully encompasses both the accusing nature and bitterness of the previous bullies we have already discussed. They take those unpleasant character traits and add gasoline on top.
From my personal experience having run into this type of bully, and as a professional counselor, I believe there are a few key methods the Calculating Bully utilizes and I want to share two with you today.
“You Will Not Have What I Cannot Achieve”
This inner-dialogue is similar to the Bitter Bully but the intensity is different. The Bitter Bully often uses passive-aggressive methods to let you know that your success or joy has stepped on their toes. The Calculating Bully will try to remove those items from your life. They go to great lengths to use flat-out lies about you to smear your reputation. They will call in their troops to further spread the hateful message of the Calculating Bully. They will target you and try to make you look incompetent in whatever way fits the environment. If the Calculating Bully is in a family, they may discredit you as an adult child or parent to your own children. If the bully is within a workplace, the Calculating Bully could sabotage you by going behind you and changing your work to have it include errors that you did not make. If it is in a church environment, the Calculating Bully will spread rumors about you to make leadership question your appropriateness for ministry.
These adult bullies are out for blood. They feel no shame about how they try to reach their goal of destroying you and everything you have achieved, but they have not.
“I Will Make You Think Everyone Hates You”
The Calculating Bully wants you to feel isolated. They desire to know that you feel rejected and left out. It makes them smugly happy. In reality, your rejection is usually just smoke and mirrors. Sometimes they are able to achieve a successful smear campaign and people do actually turn away from you. More often, I have witnessed the Calculating Bully trying to create a false sense of reality. If the adult bully is a former friend, they will encourage people to give you space for a season to let the dust settle on whatever conflict may have happened. The Calculating Bully knows this will land with you as the silent treatment and that’s the goal. In the workplace, this adult bully will purposefully steer other people away from inviting you to go out to lunch or after work together. The Calculating Bully enjoys the moment when you find out that you were excluded. In a family, this bully will flaunt their affection and often times, gifts, intended for other people in the family. You are never honored. Never celebrated. The Calculating Bully in a family with cut you off from the nurturing that all humans desire. This bully likes to see you long for what other family members are receiving right in front of you.
What are you to do if you have a Calculating Bully in your life? Quickly get away from them. Seriously. I know some situations are incredibly difficult to remove yourself from but every effort must be made to put as much distance between yourself and this form of adult bully.
Rarely do these bullies make lasting changes in their behaviors. That would require a tremendous amount of self-reflection and repetitious internal corrections in order to re-wire their internal compass.
A Calculated Bully doesn’t relate to other people in a normal way and that is why they can treat you so poorly. It is truly about them, and not you.
As a therapist, I believe it is therapeutic to engage in the simple of act of acknowledging what we know to be true. As you have read this blog, maybe a particular person has come to mind and you have begun to see that they are not only accusing and bitter, but their ugly actions are actually calculated. If you identified someone as a Calculated Bully, please say out loud the following:
I believe ____________________(name of person) is a Calculated Bully.
I believe he/she would like to see my life ruined.
I will stop giving ____________________(name of person) the benefit of the doubt each time I am hurt by her/him.
I will use everything available to me to put healthy distance between myself and ____________________(name of person).
I deserve to have people in my life who treat me with kindness and care.
My hope is that every Calculating Bully will face clear and solid boundaries from the people around them. It won’t change the bully’s toxic behaviors, but fewer people will have their lives negatively impacted. We must stop giving harmful people full access to our lives and hearts.
Keep dreaming big!