• Codependency Is Real And It Can Leave Women Vulnerable to Being Abused or Taken Advantage Of

Extreme Caution Urged Concerning Domestic Violence Sites that Discount the Role of Codependency in Abuse of Women – Some Abuse Victims are Indeed Codependent

Codependency is Not Victim Blaming and Can and Does Play a Role in Female Marriage (or Dating Violence) or Female Exploitation

(I began composing this post in the summer of 2016 but will publish it in the fall of 2016.)

Summary: 

The topic of Codependency, (which encompasses, but is not limited to, concepts such as assertiveness and boundaries), is NOT a “victim-blaming” one and has a place in helping girls and women make healthier choices for themselves and what they will and will not tolerate in relationships.

A brief critique of the page “Abuse Victims Are Not Codependent, They’re Trauma-Bonded” by S. Arabi – hosted on the Huffington Post – is posted much farther below under the section entitled, “COMMENTS ABOUT HUFFINGTON POST PAGE BY SHAHIDA ARABI”


I touched on this very issue in a previous post here, about half way down the page, under the section entitled “Codependency and Relationship Abuse.”

I am truly alarmed to see the number of sites, some Christian – some not, that wish to deny or discount that codependency can and does play a role in violence towards women, or the exploitation of girls and women, in romantic relationships or other areas of life.

Denying that codependent women can attract abusers or be in abusive relationships, or that being codependent can protract an abusive or exploitative relationship, is doing a very dangerous and huge dis-service to girls and women.

Before I return to that topic in depth, I’d like to fill readers in on some of my  personal background, because I believe it will help you understand where I am coming from.

Using myself as an example will also help you to realize that saying that codependency can play a role in why some women are abused, or why so many remain in exploitative relationships (including toxic friendships or toxic work-place environments), is not (NOT NOT NOT!) a form of “victim-blaming”.

You can also trust me on that because I detest victim-blaming. I have been on the receiving end of victim-blaming by various people over my life, and I know it’s not pleasant, compassionate, or fair.

I myself am a codependent who is in recovery.

I used to be codependent and am trying to move past it, though on occasion, I may slightly revert back to one or two codependent habits. However, I am on the road to recovery.

MY PERSONAL BACKGROUND

My parents were devout Christians who believed in traditional gender roles, which are quite similar to the ones which are often taught under the “gender complementarian” label in many Christian churches.

My mother was an extremely codependent person.

(If you’re not familiar with the word “codependency” and what it entails, and would like to learn more about it, please see previous posts on this blog for explanations of what codependency is, such as this one – and you can find many other blog posts and articles by other people who explain what it is by doing a simple internet search).

My mother came from a family where her father (my maternal grandfather) was an alcoholic and a physical abuser of his wife (my maternal grandmother).

My grandfather sometimes physically abused my mother (especially when he was inebriated) and silently sat back and did nothing to protect her from one of her older siblings who he knew used to regularly abuse her.

My mother told me that her father became even more violent during his drinking bouts.

My mother told me that my grandfather would emotionally abuse my grandmother, and do things such as complain about her cooking and throw the dinner and the plates up against the wall, smashing the plates, and make her start dinner all over again.

My grandfather would physically beat my grandmother.

Years later, when I suppose my mother was in her 20s or 30s, married and living away from her parents (as she was married to my father by this time), my grandfather became so violent on one occasion that my grandmother ran away from him, called my mother from a phone booth several streets away, and asked to come live with my Mom for a span of time (which she did for several weeks).

My mother died a few years ago, but one of her older sisters (my Aunt, who also died a couple of years back) confirmed all this for me in a few phone calls in the year or two before her passing – that her father, my grandfather, was physically abusing their mother (my grandmother).

Based upon what my mother, Aunt, and another Aunt told me, my maternal Grandmother had a “do nothing” mentality in the face of her abusive marriage.

My maternal Grandmother refused to divorce her abusive husband because, she would often tell these other family members, she “made her bed now must lie in it.”

One of my Aunts later confirmed that my maternal Grandmother was a “push over” and a doormat (i.e., she was codependent) – not just in regards to her marriage but with other people and situations.

I do believe all these factors and paradigms played a large part in why my grandmother held this attitude that she could not divorce her husband, why she didn’t take any steps to stop him, to leave him (other than the one occasion where she spent weeks at my mother’s house), or why she felt married women didn’t deserve any better in life and just had to put up with it, or what have you.

My grandmother was a very devout Christian, but I’m not sure to what degree she was against divorce or being assertive based on religious grounds, but I would not be surprised if her Christian beliefs did play a role in all that as well.

I believe there are several reasons why my own mother was codependent, and I am not going to outline all those reasons here.

I will say I strongly suspect one prominent reason my mother was so thoroughly codependent is that she did come from a home where her father was an abusive alcoholic.

Furthermore, my mother saw her mother cope with this situation not by standing up for herself, not by escaping, but acquiescing and adopting a passive stance. My mother probably felt if she tried to be agreeable and meek around her father when he was in one of his drunken stupors, she could escape any angry outbursts of his.

My mother carried this fear of conflict, and these mal-adaptive (codependent) coping methods, into adulthood. My mother passed these things on to me.

My mother taught me, role modeled for me, and indoctrinated me, to be codependent as well. So, I grew up being very codependent myself.

My mother taught me, or it was implied by her, that so long as I was codependent (i.e., very nice, kind, passive, unassertive – among other qualities) that I would attract giving, nice people in return.

CODEPENDENT BEHAVIOR CAN AND DOES ATTRACT ABUSIVE PEOPLE TO YOU – BUT THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE “TO BLAME” FOR BEING MISTREATED!

However, over the course of my life, from my childhood into my adulthood, I ended up, in fact, attracting mean, selfish, bullying or abusive people to me, the way a moth is attracted to a flame.

The man I dated and was engaged to for a period of years financially exploited me and towards the last year or two we were engaged, he became somewhat emotionally and verbally abusive as well.

I could not figure this phenomenon out for the longest time.

I could not comprehend how it was that although I was very passive and nice, as my mother taught me to be, that I kept befriending or dating people who were self-absorbed or bullying, rather than nice and loving.

I didn’t figure out why this was happening until years after my mother died, and I stumbled across books that discussed, you guessed it: codependency.

Learning about codependency has been the greatest liberating thing to ever happen to me; it has turned my life around for the better.

SITES AND BLOGS THAT DENY THAT CODEPENDENCY CAN AND OFTEN DOES PLAY A ROLE IN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS

I am having trouble accepting there are secular and Christian sites and domestic violence blogs that refuse to educate girls and women about codependency’s dangers and to point them to resources on how to escape it or to un-learn it, if they are involved in it.

Further, some of these sites (such as a Christian- based, anti- domestic violence blog, “A Cry for Justice“) will go so far as to censor your posts if you mention codependency in them – which happened to me earlier today (June 26, 2016).

That is a blog to which I have posted to before in the past, and to which I have shared my story months ago – so they know me, and they know my background – and they should also be aware of the fact I am there to help, not hurt people, and to simply share my experiences.

One of my recent posts there (at “A Cry For Justice” blog), the portion of which mentioned the term (codependency) in passing, as it applied to me and how learning about it helped me, was removed (as were, for some reason I cannot ascertain, other portions that did not mention codependency)!

I did leave a follow up post at “A Cry For Justice” blog (which was sitting in moderation last I saw) asking the moderators why my post was edited by them, but last I checked this evening, that post did not get an answer.

I appreciate that my post was allowed to be published at all on their blog, but I am disheartened and amazed they censored my post and continue to take an “anti-codependency” stance on their blog – because really, such a view and practice is not helping women in abusive relationships.

Normally, “A Cry for Justice” is a fine blog, and I think they sincerely care about abused women, but they are ultimately harming women by denying the negative role codependency can play in women’s lives and by refusing to allow people to talk about it on their site.

Here is another site whose author, Clare Murphy, phD, disputes that codependency affects women in abusive situations:

Are women who live with abusive partners codependent? –I may at a later time return to the topic of Murphy’s post later in this post or another and critique it.

Lundy Bancroft, author of a book about domestic violence entitled, “Why Does He Do That?” is regarded as an authority on the topic of domestic abuse. I own a copy of his book and have read the whole thing.

Regardless of Bancroft’s expertise, he is quite wrong to state in his book (on page 135) that abused women are not codependent (and there are other experts who disagree with him, which I shall return to later in this post).

Here is what Bancroft writes on that page:

Abused women aren’t “codependent.” It is abusers, not their partners, who create abusive relationships.”

While Bancroft is obviously quite knowledgeable about domestic abuse (and I recommend his materials), he does not seem to understand what codependency is, or the role it can and does play in abusive relationships.

If that quote is Bancroft’s take on codependency, he is very much mistaken and does not seem to understand what codependency is: credible people who write and teach about codependency do not teach that it is the woman’s codependency which “creates” abuse.

What authors about codependency do teach is that codependent tendencies and behaviors can attract abusive men to such women, and codependency is one thing that can and does often keep many women trapped in abusive (or other types of unhealthy) relationships much longer than they should stay.

Authors of articles and books on codependency and related issues often go to great pains to explain that discussions or descriptions of codependency in women are not intended to be “victim blaming,” and the authors further explain that a woman being codependent does not mean she “causes” abuse, enjoys it, or intentionally seeks it out.

These reputable authors of codependency always make it clear that abuse is the sole blame and responsibility of the abuser – not the victim, even if the victim is codependent.

Before I return to that topic, I want to address another.

AUTHORS OFTEN DISCUSS CODEPENDENT BEHAVIOR BUT EITHER UNWITTINGLY OR INTENTIONALLY AVOID USING THE WORD “CODEPENDENT”

I have read many blog posts, online magazine articles, and books by psychiatrists and other professionals in the mental health profession who have been in their respective fields for twenty or more years.

One odd habit I have seen time and again is that many authors, for some reason, refuse to use the term “codependent,” yet they will spend the rest of their post, article, or book describing behaviors that can and do fall under the umbrella of codependency.

For example, I have a book about exploitative and abusive relationships by a woman author who is described on the book jacket as being an expert on “emotional and sexual abuse.”

This author says in one of the opening chapters in her book that her book is “not about codependency.”

However, this author spends the remainder of the book describing all the typical habits, views, and tendencies practiced and believed by codependents and how these behaviors and views can harm women.

This author chooses to use synonyms for the word “codependent” in her book, such as “nice girls.”

I have a book by another author, one with a phD, who is a psychiatrist (who had something like 30 or more years of experience treating patients), who does not, as far as I can recall, ever use the word “codependent” in her book but who opts to use phrases such as “people pleasing,” “people pleaser,””mushy boundaries,” or “doormat,” rather than “codependent.”

But guess what? All the mindsets and behaviors this phD author spends this thick book describing as being “people pleasing” are identical to what you’ll find in books and blog posts about…. yes, codependency!

Even author Lundy Bancroft engages in this behavior in his book on domestic violence, “Why Does He Do That?

In preparation for this post, I dug out my copy of Bancroft’s book, in which, months ago, I made notations in the margins and inside book flap.

I noticed that on page 120 of my copy of the book, next to the heading “He appears to be attracted to vulnerability,” I wrote the word “Codependency” next to it, with an arrow pointing to the heading.

Why did I do that?

Because on that page, and the one or two that follows, Bancroft describes codependent women -or codependent behavior- but merely chooses to use the word “vulnerable” to describe them, their behaviors, or their reactions to controlling men.

Bancroft uses that section of the book to describe the traits some abusive men look for in women they wish to target, and most of those traits are the same thing as codependency, merely under another title (“vulnerability”).

Here is an example from Bancroft’s book where he is describing codependency –  but using other terms to describe it:

“I have had quite a number of clients [abusive men] over the years who are attracted to women who are vulnerable because of recent traumatic experiences in their lives… Some abusive men seek out a woman who comes from a troubled or abusive childhood, who has health problems, or who has suffered a recent severe loss, and present themselves as rescuers. Be alert for the man who seems to be attracted to power imbalances.” (page 121)

What happens when a women meets some of that criteria that Bancroft describes there? When a woman is vulnerable, or feels vulnerable, she will tend to exhibit behaviors or coping skills that fall under the heading of codependency: she will lack boundaries, be passive, and be easy to take advantage of.

All Bancroft indicates here is that some women may veer into codependency due to recent tragic life circumstances – with women such as myself, however, I was trained from childhood by my mother to internalize and exhibit codependent behavior.

Lesson learned: just because a doctor, psychiatrist, counselor, therapist, phD, or domestic abuse violence expert, is reluctant to use the word “codependent” in his or her writing – or even refuses to admit it plays a part in abuse – does not mean he or she is not actually discussing codependency.

These authors (such as Lundy Bancroft and others) are describing codependency and warning about its dangerous, harmful, or lethal consequences for women – but sometimes they do so without actually using the word “codependency,” but then amazingly, they turn around and discount codependency as being one factor of several in abusive relationships.

This is rather duplicitous of them, it’s dangerous for women and girls that they do this, and I cannot figure out why people who claim to be so deeply concerned about abused women, or for the safety of women, would behave in this manner.

HOW LEARNING ABOUT CODEPENDENCY WAS FREEING FOR ME

Once I started reading about codependency, and recognized this was what my mother and I suffered from, my eyes were opened. The puzzle pieces fell into place.

I understood for the first time how and why I kept crossing paths with abusers, jerks, and users. I learned that to attract healthy, normal people into my life, that I had to un-learn the codependent behaviors and adopt new ones.

Please take note that none of this meant I was to blame for having been abused or taken advantage of.

Learning that you may be giving off signals that are appealing to abusers, liars, cheats, or jerks does not mean you are consciously asking to be treated poorly, that you want to be treated poorly, or that you are to blame.

I had to learn to leave the naive worldview of codependency behind to be able to see people for what they really are, so I could spot warning signs in people and steer clear of them, or else have the courage to stand up to them if it came to confrontation.

Once I learned about codependency and other topics that fall under that heading (such as being assertive and having boundaries), I became more adept at spotting or handling jerks or dangerous people.

I pause here to say: I realize that some sociopaths, abusers, and bullies wear masks and so you won’t always be able to figure out or recognize they are evil, mean, or dangerous until you have been sucked into their web years and years into the relationship.

However, I do think in many cases, abusers and jerks do give off warning signs – ones that you can spot if you know what to look for, and learn to give up codependent relational strategies (which can keep you blind to red flags, or leave you incompetent to handle them).

I want to explain in my specific case, my mother’s method of parenting created in me excellent people-reading skills, so I was very good at spotting abusers, mean people, and bullies in seconds after meeting them or observing them from a distance (say, while standing across from them at a room while at a party).

I had excellent “radar.” I could read people instantly. Why?

My mother taught me that I was prohibited from dealing with conflict head on; I was told it was wrong, selfish, unChristian, or mean to have boundaries.

I was taught that if someone hurt my feelings or offended me, I could not confront that person over the phone or face to face and simply tell them how they hurt me or angered me, and that I wanted that treatment to stop.

My mother would not allow me to even POLITELY address people about these things.

My mother did permit me one self defense mechanism: avoidance. My mother believed strongly in conflict avoidance.

She thought it was mean, un-Christian, selfish, or un-lady-like for a girl or woman to express anger, to defend herself verbally (even if done politely), or to be assertive.

Yes, my mother was accepting of me avoiding mean people, bullies, or people who I simply found annoying. She would allow me to physically hide from them in hallways at school when I was a kid, or, as a teen and an adult, do things such as screen their phone calls via an answering machine rather than talk to them.

My mother was fine with me simply staying away and hiding from people I was afraid of, or whom I disliked.

Consequently, I became an excellent, excellent people-reader.

When your only method of self defense is avoiding jerks, con artists, and abusers, you learn very quickly to size up people’s character and demeanor by observing them – by watching their body language, facial expression, tone of voice, how they treat others, and so on.

Living life as a conflict-avoider is an exhausting one, and I could never enjoy being around people, because I was always “on guard” when around them.

I find my life now as being more comfortable confronting people ten times more easy to live, and much of my clinical depression has lifted (because I’m no longer holding anger in-wards, for one thing).

I want to say that contrary to what some sites about domestic violence victims state:

  • It is simply not true that all domestic violence victims are not codependent (because some are).
  • It is further not true that women only became codependent, or take on codependent traits, after their marriages became abusive –
    The fact is, some women walk into abusive marriages or dating relationships precisely because they are ALREADY codependent (such as the case with my mother and myself).

It is very dangerous to teach girls and women to ignore the topic of codependency completely, or to portray the entire topic as though “diagnosing” some women as being codependent is “victim blaming” or that doing so is “pathologizing” targets of abuse.

I am myself a recovering codependent, and when I read books or blog posts on the topic, or related ones, and the authors tell me that my actions or behaviors can be categorized under the term “codependency” (or “people pleasing,” “vulnerability,” or other euphemisms), they explain that these habits are at the very root of many of my relational problems, and they offered steps on how to overcome this, and it helped me tremendously.

One of the reasons I ended up continually attracting mean, rude, selfish, or abusive people to myself for decades is precisely because of having been codependent.

One of the very reasons I ended up tolerating abusive behavior from an older sister of mine, as well as tolerating bad treatment from manipulative friends and former co-workers for many decades, was due to having been codependent.

Therefore, it really blows my mind and leaves me incredulous that there are scholars, psychologists, authors, doctors, or Christian abuse blogs who want to censor, demonize, or vilify the subject of codependency on their sites or in their books!

Reminder: I was in a financially abusive relationship with a man I was engaged to for several years because I was codependent: I lacked the assertiveness and so forth to issue boundaries and to tell him “no” every time he asked me for more money.

(My ex also grew a bit emotionally and verbally abusive towards the last several months or so of our relationship, and I was unable to stand up to him in those areas as well – because I was, once more, codependent.)

A CRY FOR JUSTICE BLOG

Ordinarily, I would recommend the blog A Cry for Justice for any girl or woman undergoing abuse, but please be aware that some of the moderators of that site will not share information about codependency with its readers (unless that information is to condemn or criticize the concept).

Here is a link to the page with a couple of my posts under it, which I made using my screen name “Daisy”, where I gave possible solutions to a woman facing abuse that referred to codependency:

The Silence of Our Friends – My Comment Link (A Cry for Justice Blog)

Note: the link directly above is to a specific post of mine I made on that blog which was apparently never approved by the moderators to appear – it was the one where I mentioned codependency.

(The thread’s main link is here: The Silence of Our Friends)

The post by me I direct your attention to on that page has a time stamp of 10:44 AM. It is my second post on that page (I am unable to directly link to it).

I wrote much of the above post on this blog in June 2016. It is now October 2016.

I have no idea if in the time I was last on that page at “A Cry For Justice” blog if they published my posts or suppressed them or published them yet modified them. (I don’t want to visit that page at this point in time and see for myself.)

As far as I can recall, the last time I was at that page, I do know that they modified at least one of my posts that I left in that thread (without asking my permission first or notifying me first) to remove references about codependency from my reply. I find that very troubling.

IF THEY CARE THEY WILL EDUCATE READERS ABOUT CODEPENDENCY

Any person, site, book, or organization that claims to care about the safety and well-being of women but that refuses to give the topic of codependency a fair hearing and will not share information about codependency to victims is ultimately harming women, not helping.

I realize that some women may start out a relationship NOT being codependent but only develop codependent behaviors as a coping mechanism until they escape, but such a rationale is not a legitimate reason to discount educating girls and women about codependency.

Viewing codependency as being pathologizing or as being “victim-blaming” is a very skewed understanding and distorted take on the matter. 

Learning about codependency from reading books and blogs about it by mental health professionals has been so helpful to me. I think many girls and women would also find information about it to be just as helpful.

Please disregard the well-meaning secular experts on domestic abuse, or well-meaning Christians out there who write regularly about abuse, who want  you to avoid learning about codependency.

Besides, I find that a really odd view and practice – why not point women to these resources about codependency, and allow them to read up on it, and make up their own minds about it? – and I don’t just mean links that are hyper-critical of the issue and that make codependency look bad, but link to pages that present a fair, neutral, educational stance.

As I explained in another previous post or two on this blog, unfortunately, many Christians, especially the ones who teach a belief called “gender complementarianism” confuse complementarianism for women with codependency.

Many Christians, the complementarians above all,  are teaching girls and women that qualities such as being passive and lacking boundaries are some of the traits of “biblical womanhood” that God wants females to have – which is false; God does not want women or girls to adhere to these behaviors. (See my previous posts for more on that topic.)

Codependent thought patterns and behaviors – and gender complementarianism – leaves girls and women wide open to being taken advantage of more easily by dishonest people, than teaching women and girls that it’s acceptable for them to be assertive and to have boundaries. Again, I cover that more in previous posts, so I shall not go on more about that here.

COMMENTS ABOUT HUFFINGTON POST PAGE BY SHAHIDA ARABI

Here are some of my thoughts regarding the following page, hosted on “Huffington Post”:

Abuse Victims Are Not Codependent, They’re Trauma-Bonded by Shahida Arabi

Like many other deniers, Shahida Arabi believes that it is “victim blaming” to note that codependency can or does play a role in some women’s mistreatment.

It is not “victim blaming” to take note that codependency can and does play a factor in abusive relationships any more than it is victim blaming to advise people to lock their doors at night to reduce the risk of having a burglar enter their home as they are sleeping to steal their television set. It’s simply about taking precautions.

As I believe I noted above, not all men are initially attracted to codependent women – some do in fact seek out “strong” women who have healthy boundaries. That is true.

But even experts on domestic abuse, and psychologists and psychiatrists who write about passive women who are in abusive relationships note, many to most abusers do intentionally seek out codependents as victims to target, because codependents typically have poor boundaries, which makes them far, far easier to exploit than women who have healthy boundaries.

Arabi stated:

Even if you feel you have codependent traits or were ‘primed’ by childhood abuse, the abuse you’ve experienced in any stage of your life is still not your fault.  You are not an “enabler” of the abuser.

Arabi is completely incorrect on this last point.

Depending on the specific relationship in question, codependents do enable their own abuse – this is not (NOT NOT NOT) saying that they “deserve” to be abused or that they are “to blame” for their abuse.

(Or, to put it another way, codependent behaviors do in fact enable abuse. Maybe stating it that way will make it sound less “victim blaming” to the Arabis of the world.)

I’ll use myself as an example yet again, using my older sibling. I used to be very codependent.

I have an older sister who has been extremely verbally abusive of me since I was a kid, and she has remained abusive into my adult years.

Because my mother conditioned me since my childhood to react in a codependent fashion when I receive abuse, including verbal abuse, I had no boundaries in place with my sister.

If my sister abused me over the phone, I would sit and listen quietly for hours as she berated me. I would never defend myself with my sister or do anything to halt the abuse.

If my sister yelled at me in person, I would sit quietly as she screamed vulgarities and put downs at me.

I was participating in my own abuse. I was enabling my sister to continue in her treatment of me.

If I wanted my sister’s abuse of me to stop, it was up to me to change the dynamics of the situation, and sitting there quietly, passively, and just enduring the abuse, as I was raised to do, was sure not going to halt the abuse.

After I realized I was codependent, and I read books on the topic – some of which gave tips on how to have boundaries – I no longer play a part in this abusive dynamic.

These days, if my sister starts screaming at me over the phone, I slam the phone down on her. If my sister sends me terribly rude, hateful e-mail, I delete it without reading further, and without replying to it. I no longer get into her games of anger and hostility.

When my sister yells at me in judgement, asking me to defend or explain myself, I refuse – I now realize I do not owe her justifications for myself, my choices, my mistakes, or my life.

I have also severely cut back on the amount of time I spend with my sister.

As a result, my sister is not in my life as much and is unable to verbally abuse me.

Thanks to books about codependency, I realize my sister’s abuse is about her, the abuse is completely my sister’s responsibility and the abuse is not about me – she can no longer rob me of my self-worth.

Far from taking codependency as being “victim blaming,” I learned from reading books and blogs about the topic that it’s the total opposite: I am not to blame for my sister’s abuse. My sister is.

I have no idea where or how or why so many of these authors on other sites, such as Arabi, are arriving at this notion that codependency is “victim blaming” because it’s anything BUT.

Arabi said in her page on Huffington Post:

Dr. Clare Murphy asserts that abuse victims can actually exhibit codependent traits as a result of trauma, not because they are, in fact, codependent.

..Contrary to popular myth, anyone can be victimized by an abuser – even one with strong boundaries initially, because covert abuse is insidious and unbelievably traumatic, resulting in symptoms of PTSD,

As I said above:

I want to say that contrary to what some sites about domestic violence victims state:

  • It is simply not true that all domestic violence victims are not codependent (because some are).
  • It is further not true that women only became codependent, or take on codependent traits, after their marriages became abusive –

The fact is, some women walk into abusive marriages or dating relationships precisely because they are ALREADY codependent (such as the case with my mother and myself).

Obviously, any woman can be targeted by an abuser, even women who are strong, self confident, and independent. I’ve never said otherwise.

Some abusers are very clever and manipulative, and they may hide their abusive nature until the woman has been in a relationship with them for many months, so that even a strong woman can be fooled by a man and lured into a situation where the abuse only begins gradually, which, by that time the relationship and abuse has gone of for a long time, the woman may be or feel trapped.

That is all very true, and I’ve not denied that any where.

However, the fact remains that most abusers are very attracted to passive women who cannot or will not be assertive.

It is dangerous and a huge dis-service to girls and women not to teach them about the risks of exhibiting codependent behavior.

Arabi said,

…especially if they had them before the abusive relationship, but for society to see codependency as the sole reason why abuse has occurred, and use it to blame the abuse victim when there are plenty of victims who were never codependent prior to the experience, is where the harm comes in.

…In some contexts, it may be helpful to pinpoint codependent traits and behaviors during the healing journey, but when the label codependent is used to shame, stigmatize or blame abuse survivors, it becomes very problematic and harmful.

Please note at no time did I say that codependency is the sole reason why abuse has occurred in every case – abuse occurs because the abuser chooses to abuse.

However, the fact remains that girls and women who display codependent traits are very attractive to abusers and selfish people: they are like honey to a bear.

If you are a woman who is codependent, you can possibly lessen your chances of being targeted by a user or an abuser by becoming more assertive. Pointing this fact out is not “victim blaming.” It is helpful and empowering.

I myself practice what I am preaching on this page – now that I am recovering from codependency, I can almost always recognize when I am being used or abused.

Further, I can take steps to rectify the situation, where-as before, when I was fully codependent, I was either blind to being used and abused, or, I had no clue or idea how to deal with being mistreated, if I happened to recognize that I was being mistreated.

There is nothing “shameful” about being told one may be codependent.

I’m amazed that the woman who wrote this page at Huffington Post chooses to view codependency as being “shameful.” It’s only shameful if she thinks or says it’s shameful; to me, the term and the concept is helpful in identifying detrimental attitudes and actions.

I do not feel ashamed for saying that I myself used to be codependent.

For years, I wondered what was wrong with me that I kept attracting mean, selfish, or insensitive people, and when I finally found out it was that I was raised by my mother to think and behave in a codependent fashion, and the books explained how to get over being codependent (which would in turn make me less attractive to the majority of awful or abusive people), I felt tremendously freed and relieved.

RESOURCES ABOUT CODEPENDENCY

If you would like to read more about the topic of codependency, and how to avoid jerks, users, and abusers very early on in relationships, and how to react when someone is unfair or rude to you, please see the following books (chapters of which can be read for free on Google books) or other resources:

Note 1: some of authors of the books or pages linked to below deny that their book or page is about codependency; or they do not use the word “codependency” in their writing – but that is exactly what these books are discussing.

Note 2: not all advice on how to deal with rude, hateful, or mean people will be applicable in violent marriages, where, for example, an abusive husband might severely beat or even murder his wife if she stands up to him or tries to leave him (for that, you may want to contact a local domestic abuse shelter in your area. They would be able to help you safely leave your abuser, if you choose to leave).

However, reading up on codependency can help you spot abusive behavior early in relationships, and, at the very least, makes you realize that YOU are NOT to blame for the abuse, but your ABUSER IS RESPONSIBLE.

BOOKS

The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused – and Start Standing Up for Yourself

The Verbally Abusive Relationship  by Patricia Evans

The Disease to Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome by Harriet Braiker

Boundaries: When To Say Yes, When To Say No by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

No More Christian Nice Girl by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer Degler

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker

WEB PAGES

Symptoms of Codependency

The Problem of Codependency

Three Causes of Christian Codependency

27 Codependency Characteristics (Person Addiction)

Christians: Stop Being So Nice

When Religion Goes Bad: Part 3 — Religious Codependency

Why It Pays To Be A Jerk

(This is a list which I may amend in the future when I come across other pertinent links)


Some of My previous posts on this topic:

Basic Overview of Codependency – And How Some Christians Misunderstand or Misrepresent Codependency

Christian Gender Complementarianism is Christian-Endorsed Codependency for Women (And That’s Not A Good Thing)

Gender Complementarianism: Marriage, Singleness, Purpose, Identity, Domestic Abuse


The topic of Codependency, (which encompasses, but is not limited to, concepts such as assertiveness and boundaries), is NOT a “victim-blaming” one and has a place in helping girls and women make healthier choices for themselves and what they will and will not tolerate in relationships.

3 thoughts on “• Codependency Is Real And It Can Leave Women Vulnerable to Being Abused or Taken Advantage Of

  1. I volunteer with a group that helps victims of domestic violence and abuse. As a result I had the opportunity to attend a seminar by Dr. George Simon, considered by some a leading expert on manipulators and other problem characters. In his seminars and on his websites he discusses how pop-psychology culture and professionals, even professionals with PhDs, commonly misuse psychology terms – codependency being one of them.

    What you have described may indeed be a form of dependency, but Dr. Simon finds that the “vast majority of the time I hear someone use the term codependency what they’re really describing is just plain dependency, or more specifically, emotional dependency.” Additionally there are other types of dependency to be considered.

    It may be that, like Dr. Simon, other websites and professionals do not label domestic violence victims as codependent because by definition it is a misuse of the term, rather victims may be, for example, emotionally dependent, in a mutually dependent relationship, or just plain dependent.

    Two articles by Dr. Simon that explain the history of and misuse of the term codependency can be found here:

    http://www.manipulative-people.com/addiction-codependence-ptsd-anxiety-and-self-esteem/

    http://www.manipulative-people.com/commonly-misused-psychology-terms-part-2/

    For your consideration.
    Maddie

  2. Daisy, I meant to comment on your article when you first published it and it slipped my mind. I wanted to convey to you that I thought you gave this topic your ‘all’ – it’s very well written and makes excellent points. I don’t understand, either, why those blog sites would not allow your comments. I did some research, however, and it seems that there are two schools of thought on the issue. Obviously, the women at A Cry for Justice take the stand that ANY kind of observance like yours suggests that a woman is being indirectly blamed for her abuse. I think you laid out your case well, in that you are suggesting that there are powerful emotional reasons why women would become involved with partners who then take advantage of their dependency. I see exactly what you are trying to say. It is unfortunate that others would spurn your valid points.

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